Schedule Your Free Consultation
Toll-free: 866-456-6423
Local: 916-677-4979
Rosenthal & Kreeger LLP
  • More Than 25 Years Experience
  • Excellence
  • Compassion
  • Integrity
Practice Areas

California court: Using smartphone maps isn't a traffic violation

Over the last few years, issues of distracted driving have become a major point of discussion and contention. Although motorists have always been susceptible to distraction, the growing prevalence of mobile devices has altered the landscape of road safety in a very serious way. Not long ago, we discussed distracted driving in relation to the emergence of wearable technology. Since that time there has been another noteworthy development, which shows how quickly this traffic safety concern is changing -- right now and in the coming years.

As it currently stands, California drivers can be ticketed for using their mobile devices to send or receive phone calls and text messages.

In 2012, a California man was given a ticket under the state's cell-phone ban when a police officer spotted him using a map app on his smartphone when he was sitting in stalled traffic. In the wake of this citation, the man launched a successful legal challenge.

A state appeals court recently tossed the man's distracted driving ticket, because current laws do not address the way he was using his phone. Since the law only makes it illegal to call and text behind the wheel, handling a phone to look at a map doesn’t fall under this category.

In taking a look at this ruling, there is a very important distinction to make: Just because something is not illegal does not mean it is safe. The reality is that a person can become just as distracted by trying to figure out a map on a smartphone as they would when trying to reply to a text message.

This decision highlights a distinction between criminal and civil law. If using a map on a mobile device distracts a driver to the point that he or she causes an accident, it may not be possible for law enforcement to issue an enforceable ticket. On the other hand, this action could be construed as negligence when a personal injury claim is filed.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Court says reading smartphone map while driving is not a crime," Robin Abcarian, Feb. 28, 2014

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Success Stories
  • Avvo Clients Choice
  • Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb Top Attorneys
  • Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Peer Review Rated
  • American Association for Justice
  • Consumer Attorneys California

EnvelopFind Out How we can help you

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

2251 Douglas Blvd., Suite 120
Roseville, CA 95661

Toll Free: 866-456-6423
Phone: 916-677-4979
Fax: 916-774-7203
Roseville Law Office Map

1903 21st Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Toll Free: 866-456-6423
Phone: 916-677-4979
Phone: 916-229-6744
Fax: 916-774-7203
Sacramento Law Office Map