There are currently three different laws on the books governing how California residents can and cannot use their mobile devices while operating a vehicle.
The first specifically bans the use of “handheld cell phones” on public roadways unless you’re using it to call emergency services. The second stipulates that only drivers over the age of 18 can use their phone’s hands free feature, whether connected to a headset (as long as it doesn’t cover both ears) or an in-car Bluetooth system. The third law specifically bans texting while driving, which you’d think would be covered by the first law.
However, a California Appeals Court has thrown a caveat in all of this, ruling that using navigation apps like Google Maps when driving is perfectly acceptable. With all these rules, and as a result, these exceptions to the rules, I’m glad I don’t live in California. Can you imagine how that traffic stop would play out?
Officer: “Sir, I pulled you over for texting back there on the I-5.”
Driver: “No, officer, I was just using Google Maps so I wouldn’t get lost.”
Officer: “Yeah, likely excuse. Let’s have a look at your phone.”
Driver: *hands iPhone to Officer*
Officer: “Well, I see you’re using Google Maps. But you got a text five minutes ago from your mom.”
Driver: “I did, yes, but I didn’t read it.”
That back and forth conversation could be a tricky one, but isn’t far out of the realm of possibility for you Californians. It’s probably a good idea to also avoid using Google Glass until the California legislature makes a specific ruling on it, too. But then again, maybe not. Who really knows.
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