Driver Ticketed For Wearing Google Glass Goes On Trial Today

googleglasssssUPDATE: The San Diego traffic court commissioner in this case has thrown out the citation against the driver, saying the police officer had no proof that the driver’s Google Glass device was turned on while she was driving.

—Original Post—
The California woman ticketed back in October for driving while sporting Google Glass is set to have her moment in court today, in the first legal test of whether wearing a wearable computer amounts to distracted driving.

For those coming late to the story, the driver was pulled over last October for allegedly speeding (a fact that many stories have overlooked) and for “Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass),” which the police maintain violates a California law prohibiting drivers from operating a vehicle if he or she can be distracted by a visible TV or other video monitor used primarily for entertainment or business applications. That law does allow for informational screens like GPS and rearview cameras.

In December, she entered a not guilty plea, claiming that while she was indeed wearing the geeky headgear, the Google Glass was not turned on.

“There is nothing illegal about simply wearing the Google Glass while it is not turned on,” said her lawyer at the time.

Now Reuters reports that she is scheduled to appear and argue her case today in a San Diego traffic court. While the decision will likely not set any concrete, binding precedent, it is believed to be the first time that a court will rule on the legality of wearing such devices while behind the wheel.

Of course, that issue is just going to get more complicated if and when Google integrates Glass into frames containing prescription lenses. Think about it — a driver may simultaneously need to wear the device in order to see the highway with his prescription lenses while also putting himself at risk for being ticketed because of the Google Glass screen.

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  1. Mphonetic says:

    It is interesting that many are going to overlook that she was legitimately pulled over.

    Outside of that, how can the prove they were on? I realize that “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t really fit in all cases. I am kind of split on how it would work here. Should the law assume all people wearing it have it on? We’re not even talking about the point where glass is integrated with normal glasses. Isn’t it safe to assume that if someone is wearing Glass, it is on and in use? Why else would you wear them? They look horrible and serve no other purpose, at this moment.

    • SingleMaltGeek says:

      Well, in theory you would wear them all the time because they’re meant to be an always-available source of information; in this case so you can pull over and check a map or your messages (or even do so at a red light) without having to dig them out of your bag or their case.

    • MarthaGaill says:

      They actually go to sleep when not in use, even while you’re wearing them. You have to tap to activate or tilt your head back 30°. The idea is that they’re on your head and ready for use, but not always powered on. Even when on, the screen isn’t right in your eyes. It’s not like if it was on it was blocking her vision.

      I don’t know if they can prove she had them turned on. The only way you know is the light on the side comes on. I don’t think they’re any more dangerous than cell phones, which admittedly do cause problems, but phones aren’t illegal.

  2. SingleMaltGeek says:

    Uh-oh. I’m not so sure about this particular legal defense. IANAL, but the reason there are open container laws is so the police don’t actually have to see the alcohol pouring into your mouth from a labeled container to have a reasonable suspicion that you may be DUI. In the same way, if it is always illegal to have a monitor within view, then the fact that the monitor was off might not be an excuse.

    Having said that, what a stupid law! My MIL’s Prius has an in-dash navigation system, so would it be illegal to drive that car anywhere in the jurisdiction in question? If GPS devices are OK, why wouldn’t a head-up display like Google Glass be OK? It allows you to keep your attention closer to traffic than a standard GPS device!

    • MarthaGaill says:

      Actually, you can get directions read aloud to you while driving from Glass. You don’t even need to look at the screen. When this technology is fully developed, it’s going to be amazing. Hopefully they can make it look nice.

      • SingleMaltGeek says:

        That’s so cool…I’m still on the fence about getting Glass. I don’t need any added dork factor, but…it’s….so shiny!

        • MarthaGaill says:

          I feel the same way. It’s not in a place where I’d buy it, but I think the second or 3rd gen, I’ll probably plunk down for a pair. Especially if I can fit it on my every day glasses. My friend has a pair and he’s developing for them. The neatest thing I’ve seen is an app where you can look at some text and it will automatically translate it for you.

          The downside is they overheat pretty bad (at least his pair does), and it seems to freeze a lot. Also, I yelled out “Share!” after he took a ridiculous picture with them and it did share with his Google+ account. I’d be worried about people just yelling things at my glasses all the time.

    • IMakeMyOwnSnarkAtHome says:

      Does your MILs GPS play youtube? That is the key legal difference if I recall correctly.

      • SingleMaltGeek says:

        So any in-dash monitor that can play YouTube (or can be hacked to do so) would be illegal? That would be…all of them, I would think.

        • IMakeMyOwnSnarkAtHome says:

          If it is hacked to do so, yes it is illegal. Glass does not have to be hacked to display video signal that produces entertainment or business aplications. That is the key difference.

          “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.”

          The case was dismissed for a lack of evidence.