Mapping Out A New Direction

By Benita on June 13, 2014//Leave a comment

The Story:

Mr. Spriggs was issued a traffic ticket for checking his phone for an alternative route while sitting in a traffic jam. He was charged with violating California Vehicle Code §23123(a), which bans the use of cell phones while driving, unless the driver uses the phone to listen and talk hands-free.


The Ruling:

People v. Spriggs (February 27, 2014, No. F066927): The California Fifth District Court of Appeal held that drivers can legally check a map application on their cell phones.


The Rationale:

The court agreed with Mr. Spriggs’ argument that he did not violate California Vehicle Code §23123(a) because he was not talking on the phone. According to the court, the statute “means what it says – it prohibits a driver only from holding a wireless phone while conversing on it.”


Read the full opinion here.






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  1. Gotta learn to be tricky!

    Tues., June 17th, 2014

    Actually, this guy got off on that infamous means of the “technicality”: he might not have been “talking” per statutory law, but probably he held the phone in his hand and looking down at it, being not “hands free,” thus presumed by the law as not paying attention to the surrounding circumstances. If the law had not mentioned “talking,” hanged he would be.

    The AppCt decision does not say if the accused used this “not talking” argument in his traffic court trial, or if an atty raised it up on appeal. We “assume” he/they did. What troubles that assumption would bring us!

    This VC law does not indicate whether the a driver would be in-motion to be in violation; another arguable point? More arguable presumptions and assumptions?

    My view of it is: it’s matter of safety, not the law. If the auto is moving, drivers can’t use it, because their self-serving attention is looking down at the small, usually inscrutable screen which demands ever-more “taps”, and they are not looking up at surrounding circumstances. I personally know people who smacked the back end of the car in front of them, in a slow-moving traffic jam, while using their cell phone in-motion. I was talking to one of them on the phone when it happened, mere fender-bender as it was, and a few others, an almost-hit.

    But in a standing-still traffic jam, or waiting motionless at a traffic light, that’s different. Back in motion again, and it’s “hands-free” or nothing. And a gps-map type usage often needs no “talking” yet requires squinting eyes as much as tapping fingers devoted to that little screen, so that ends it for gps while in-motion. All this is very logical.

    How much money did the accused spend to get this result?! And why is it that All-Knowing & Omnipotent Legislature and all the bureaucratic hirelings attending to their every need and then some, did not see this troublesome detail in the future? That’s what we pay them for. Thought we did, anyway. But then, I think. As Martha Stewart never said: “And that’s not a good thing.” aha!

  2. Robin Seigle

    Good ruling! Hope it gets passed on to law enforcement.

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