Residents of California may want to think twice before using their phone...

With the technological advancements so readily available today, in the form of GPS units and Smartphones, it is likely that few turn to paper maps anymore when they are trying to get from one place to another. Rather than trying to follow small lines on a large piece of paper that never seem to want to fold back up correctly, most people rely upon these small electronic devices that allow them to input coordinates a receive directions to their destination.

Residents of California may want to think twice before using their phone in this way however. This is because of a court decision that was recently handed down by the Fresno Superior Court. This three-judge panel determined that using a phone in this manner violates the state’s law regarding handheld use of cellphones while driving. The law is designed to reduce car accidents in California. This decision pertains specifically to drivers in Fresno County.

The man who is at the heart of the case was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer when he picked up his phone in traffic to look for an alternate route on a map. The officer told the man that even though he was not using his phone to talk or text, because it was in his hand, he was breaking the law. The man was given a $160 ticket. Interestingly, he said he is in support of laws that make it illegal to text or otherwise use one’s cell phone while holding it, while driving. Despite this he feels a distinction is present when one is using a map feature on a cellphone.

Whether the man will decide to take his case to California’s higher courts remains to be seen. It is possible that the distinction presented in this case will lead the state’s legislature to rework the current law regarding hands-on use of phones.

Source: San Jose Mercury News, “Driver can’t use map on handheld iPhone, California court rules,” Paul Elias, April 9, 2013

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