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Court rules drivers can check smartphone maps




The Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone 4S on December 13, 2012 in Fairfax, California. Three months after Apple removed the popular Google Maps from its operating system to replace it with its own mapping software, a Google Maps app has been added to the iTunes store.
The Google Maps app is seen on an Apple iPhone 4S on December 13, 2012 in Fairfax, California. Three months after Apple removed the popular Google Maps from its operating system to replace it with its own mapping software, a Google Maps app has been added to the iTunes store.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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California drivers legally can use cellphone maps to navigate as they drive behind the wheel, according to yesterday's ruling from the 5th District Court of Appeal. The case stems from a Fresno man who was ticketed while using his iPhone's map application. Steven Spriggs fought the $165 ticket and the judges agreed that current California code only bars adult drivers from talking, texting or emailing on a handheld phone.

The court's opinion highlights that the law is different for minors: "[S]ection 23124 prohibits drivers under the age of 18 'from using a wireless telephone or other mobile service device even if used in a hands free manner while operating a motor vehicle,' including 'talking, writing, sending, reading or using the internet, or any other function such a device may enable.'" Attorney Todd Clement says legislators could draft a new law that applies to adults, too.

Do you think they should? How does the distraction from map applications compare to talking or texting? Police officers could still cite you if phone use leads to reckless driving, so is a specific law necessary?    

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Guests: 

Todd Clement, Trial Lawyer, The Clement Firm based in Dallas; writes the DistractionLawyer.com blog

Julie Mossler, Spokesperson and Head of Global Communications at Waze - a smartphone map application that relies on crowd-sourced traffic reporting