Fresno Appeals Court Rules That Cellphone Ban Applies to GPS Apps

Posted on April 8, 2013

A court decision could prove to have an impact on the way that California’s cellphone driving ban is understood and enforced.  The decision is made even more important when you consider that April has been designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, an event that will find officers with the California Highway Patrol and other enforcement entities cracking down on distracting behavior.

The Fresno Superior Court Appellate Division issued the ruling, which has the potential to alter the perception of the state’s cellphone ban.  Last January, a man was issued a ticket after an officer apparently caught him using the map function on his cellphone.  That man was then found guilty by the Fresno Superior Court Commissioner.

However, the man did not agree with that decision, arguing that the current law did not apply to functions other than talking or texting on a cellphone.  The appeals court, however, has now said that the language of the law leaves the door open for a driver to be cited if any type of handheld cellphone usage leads to distraction, whether the phone was being used as a communication device or a GPS.

The Judge said that the law was intended to allow for prompt emergency intervention by a driver when necessary to avoid an accident.  To only include talking or texting would be to limit the bill unnecessarily.

For more on what this might mean for California, click here.

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