Court Would Rather Drivers Get Lost Than Use Phone Maps While Driving

There’s a lot to be said about laws that protect drivers from distraction, including those in California that ban driving while texting or otherwise noodling around on your phone. But what if you’re just trying to get where you’re going, and your car isn’t moving? That’s not okay, say courts involved in the case of a motorist who was pulled over for checking the map on his iPhone 4.

The man was stopped in a traffic jam near downtown Fresno, reports the Associated Press, and took out his phone to check the map and see if he could find a way around the mess. Soon after, a cop pulled him over and gave him a $160 ticket just for having his phone in his hand.

Instead of take that ticket lying down, the man took his case to court to dispute the $160 fee. A traffic court commissioner and then a three-judge appellate panel of the Superior Court found him guilty of violating the California distracted driving law that was written to address texting or talking on the phone with hand-held devices.

The man tried to argue that cops were expanding the law, as it’s not illegal to hold a paper map while driving. And couldn’t he just be holding his phone in his hand and not doing anything with it? Would that cause a cop to pull someone over?

But the judicial powers that be aren’t having it, with a Fresno County judge writing that “the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails.”

What do you think?

Calif. Court: Motorist Can’t Use Hand-Held Map [Associated Press]