Fun Statutory Interpretation CA Appellate Opinion on Using Cell Phone for Map Purposes While Driving

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While stopped in heavy traffic, Steven Spriggs pulled out his wireless telephone to check a map application for a way around the congestion. A California Highway Patrol officer spotted him holding his telephone, pulled him over, and issued him a traffic citation for violating Vehicle Code section 23123, subdivision (a), which prohibits drivers from “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 contends he did not violate the statute because he was not talking on the telephone. We agree. Based on the statute’s language, its legislative history, and subsequent legislative enactments, we conclude that the statute means what it says – it prohibits a driver only from holding a wireless telephone while conversing on it. Consequently, we reverse his conviction.

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