Court: Calif. Drivers Can Use Phones to Check Maps
Law doesn't apply to smartphone apps
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2014 12:32 AM CST
The law against using handheld phones only applies to talking and texting, the court says.   (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

(Newser) – Using a smartphone to look a map while driving is allowed under the California law that bans motorists from talking or texting on a handheld phone, an appeals court has decided. The court sided with Steven Spriggs, who was fined $165 after a highway patrol officer spotted him looking at a map on his iPhone while stuck in freeway traffic, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. The court noted that the law was enacted in 2006, a year before the first iPhone came out.

The judges decided that the law only applied to conversations, and interpreting it otherwise would make it illegal to look at the time on a phone "or even to move it for use as a paperweight." Spriggs says the law should be written more clearly, adding that his son suffered a broken leg from a driver who was chatting on his phone and he definitely doesn't approve of distracted driving. "We're distracted all the time," he tells the AP. "If our distractions cause us to drive erratically, we should be arrested for driving erratically."