Calif.: Driver can't use phone to navigate

April 8, 2013 at 4:00 PM

SACRAMENTO, April 8 (UPI) -- A California judge ruled that holding and using a smartphone as a navigation device while driving is the same as calling or texting -- and against the law.

The ruling came in the case of a California man, Steve R. Spriggs, cited for violating California Code 23123, which reads, "A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving."

Spriggs was not listening or talking, or even texting, but rather using his phone for GPS navigation, and he was cited for that.

In court, Spriggs had argued the law as written implies only talking/listening are forbidden and other activities such as navigating are not.

The court didn't agree, interpreting the existing law as forbidding almost all uses of wireless telephones while driving a motor vehicle, including using them as navigation devices, InformationWeek reported Monday.

The existing code's language of "configured to allow hands-free listening" could allow use of a smartphone for navigation if it is not being held by the driver but is instead fixed into a cradle or otherwise fastened in the car, InformationWeek said.

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