A year ago, the 5
th District Court of Appeals in Fresno ruled that it was okay for California
motorists to use their cell phones while driving for anything other than
talking or texting.
In January 2012, local resident Steven Spriggs received a $165 citation
for using a map app on his iPhone while driving. The trial court found
him guilty while he served as his own attorney, but the appeals court
reversed that decision. The justices looked at the statute's language,
which only prohibited drivers from talking into hand-held devices, and
concluded that the Legislature did not intend to ban all cell phone use.
The California Attorney General
decided not to appeal the case to the Supreme Court, so it is good law throughout the Golden State.
There is no word yet as to whether or not the Legislature will try to change
the law based on
People v. Spriggs, but such a move would not be very surprising. Lawmakers should probably
consider revising, or at least streamlining, the cell phone statutes.
Current cell phone laws in California are essentially a patchwork.
If you received a cell phone ticket in Bakersfield, an attorney may be
able to get it thrown out or at least get the penalty reduced. Mr. Spriggs
lots while he represented himself, but won when he had a lawyer.