What? Is texting and driving now legal in California? Not quite… But the California Court of Appeals has recently ruled that it is permissible to view maps on smartphones while driving.
In a law that took effect in 2008 (and which has been subject to several updates), the state of California banned talking on a cell phone and texting while driving. This law was put in place as a result of the number of car accidents that were caused by distracted drivers who looked down at their phones for “just a second” to send or read a text message while driving. Unfortunately for all of us, texting and driving car accidents in the San Fernando Valley are still quite common. If you or a loved one was injured in an auto accident because the other driver was texting, talk to an experienced car accident attorney about your legal rights and potential for financial recovery.
The ‘maps case’ stems from a lawsuit bright by Steven Spriggs, a resident of Fresno, who challenged a ticket he received for driving while looking at a map on his cell phone. According to Spriggs, he was delayed at a construction roadblock and decided to look at his cell phone in order to find an alternate route. A police officer pulled him over and cited him under the California law that requires “hands-free” cell phone use while driving. Spriggs fought the ticket, with his defense being that looking at a map did not violate the law’s prohibition on talking or texting while driving. He also analogized looking at a cell phone map to a common activity that is not illegal – looking at a paper map while driving. Spriggs lost in both traffic court and in the Fresno County Superior Court before finally winning in appellate court.
The court noted that the law specifically prohibits “holding a wireless telephone while conversing on it,” but not necessarily holding a wireless phone for other purposes, such as looking at a map. Nonetheless, the California Highway Patrol still contends that “distracted driving” – whether with a paper map or a cell phone – can cause a driver to be subject to a ticket and fine. In other words, if you cause an accident in the Los Angeles area due to your distracted driving, you could still be liable for the damages you cause.
For more information about texting and driving and financial compensation for injuries suffered as a result of a car accident in the San Fernando Valley, contact experienced attorney Barry P. Goldberg today.