Observers predict that the obsession over Pokémon Go in Lamont and
Shafter may last until the end of next week, but in the meantime, is it
legal to hunt for virtual prey while driving?
The on-the-go smartphone game may have been responsible for a
multi-car pileup accident in Los Angeles, but no one really knows for sure. Officials have definitely
heard the stories from other parts of the country – like an Oregon
man who was stabbed while playing – and are concerned that the same
types of things could happen in California. So far, most of the incidents
have been relatively minor, like a
huge crowd of people looking for Pikachu on a pier in Santa Monica and a few
scattered trespassing complaints.
LAPD Cmdr. Mike Parker Tweeted “Please don’t #PokemonGO while
you are driving. Pull over, or bring a friend.”
Cellphone Law and Its Application
To answer the question we posed earlier: it is not technically illegal
to play Pokémon Go while driving, but officers are
very aggressive when it comes to cellphone use, so it is not unusual to see citations
issued for people who are viewing pictures, surfing the web, checking
their social media accounts, playing games, viewing apps, and doing anything
other than talking or texting on their cellphones.
The applicable cellphone law (VC 23123.5) prohibits “using an electronic wireless communications device to
write, send, or read a text-based communication.” The key phrase
is very broadly defined as “using an electronic wireless communications
device to manually communicate with any person,” but that definition
still excludes almost anything other than texting, emailing, or instant
Besides the narrow wording, another issue with VC 23123.5 tickets is that
the officer must prove that the person was either sending or viewing a
text-based message while driving. Vehicle Code violations are “infractions”
and not technically criminal cases, so at least in theory, drivers could
be required to testify against themselves by showing the judge their text
or email logs, because the Fifth Amendment only applies in criminal matters.
The issue has not come up yet, but it’s only a matter of time before it does.
Getting Legal Help
The aggressive lawyers at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving
individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call
today at 661-859-1177 or email
firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español,
llame al 661-376-0214.