FRESNO, Calif. — California drivers don’t have to wonder any longer if it’s legal to use a GPS app on a cell phone while driving. It’s not, according to a recent ruling in an appeal from the Appellate Superior Court in Fresno.
According to the court filings, the ruling came after Steven R. Spriggs challenged a citation issued by the California Highway Patrol in January 2012 for using his phone’s GPS navigation app. A Fresno court judge ruled in Spriggs' favor when the case went to trial in April of last year, but a California appellant court overturned the ruling last month.
“Public concern about the dangers of distracted driving has led to legislation that limits the use of cellular phones and electronic communications devices while driving,” the court stated in its ruling. “The drive behind this legislation was the concern about the interference with the driver’s attention caused by the physical aspects of using these devices.”
The California court maintained that use of a wireless phone solely for its map application function while driving violates the statute, which is “specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”
Spriggs’ trial saw arguments on both sides as to the exact definition of “using” a phone while driving, but the ultimate opinion read: “Because it is undisputed that appellant used his wireless telephone while holding it in his hand as he drove his vehicle, his conduct violated Vehicle Code section 23123, subdivision (a).”
— Stephanie Forshee