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.