California Driver Arrested For Using Maps On iPhone While Driving Exonerated

Going somewhere? Take Apple's Maps with you.

Many states have laws against using smartphones while driving, for talking and texting… but does that count for Apple Maps? A California appeals court has ruled no.

In California, there is a law on the books preventing talking and texting while driving. But a court has ruled that, because of the narrowness and specificity of the law, it can’t be applied to other forms of smartphone usage:

ABC reports

The 5th District Court of Appeal reversed the case of a Fresno man who was ticketed in January 2012 for looking at a map on his iPhone 4 while stuck in traffic. The driver, Steven Spriggs, challenged the $165 fine and won.

Spriggs was caught up by road work and grabbed his cellphone to find an alternate route when a California Highway Patrol officer on a motorcycle spotted him and stopped him to write the ticket.

The problem with this interpretation is that Spriggs was left off the hook because he was not listening to his phone without a hands-free kit, or texting. But that’s the extent of the laws. Maps might seem like a commonplace use scenario while driving, but playing, say, Flappy Bird while zooming down the highway shouldn’t be.

On his part, Spriggs has a fairly good point. “We’re distracted all the time,” he said. “If our distractions cause us to drive erratically, we should be arrested for driving erratically.” Of course, it’s not just about being arrested: it’s about preventing deadly accidents before they happen. That’s the real point of the law. You can’t arrest an erratic driver when he’s dead.

  • http://www.robgadv.com/ RobG

    While it’s good to get this “exception” out of the way in a court challenge, I blame the idiot cops for wasting our time in ticketing somebody for this, when COMMON SENSE should prevail.

  • Martin M

    Headline should be changed to “California Driver ticketed…”, not “California Driver Arrested…”.

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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