California Court Throws Out Google Glass Distracted Driving Case
January 17, 2014

California Court Throws Out Google Glass Distracted Driving Case

Peter Suciu for - Your Universe Online

On Thursday a San Diego traffic court threw out the citation against a woman who was believed to be the first motorist in the country ticketed for driving while wearing a Google Glass computer-in-eye device.

“Self-proclaimed Google Glass pioneer” Cecilia Abadie, who is one of Google’s “explorers” and is testing the technology before it becomes widely available, took to social media after being ticketed for speeding and distracted driving back in October of last year. She posted a scanned image of the ticket she received on her Google+ account, which noted, “driving with monitor visible to driver (Google Glass).”

Abadie, who was reportedly pulled over by California Highway Patrol Officer Keith Odle, was cited for driving around 85 miles per hour in a 65-mile-per-hour zone. That charge was dismissed by Court Commissioner John Blair for lack of evidence to establish Abadie’s actual speed after an expert witness failed to appear in court to testify to the calibration of the speedometer used by the officer, Slash Gear reported on Friday.

The case is also unique in that the second citation was specifically related to Google Glass.

According to California law the use of a visual monitor typically refers to a television or video monitor. The California Vehicle Code 27602 Television actually specifies that: “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.”

Moreover, the code also notes some exceptions to the rule, specifying: “Subdivision (a) does not apply to the following equipment when installed in a vehicle: (1) A vehicle information display. (2) A global positioning display. (3) A mapping display. (4) A visual display used to enhance or supplement the driver's view forward, behind, or to the sides of a motor vehicle for the purpose of maneuvering the vehicle.”

Thus the law has been instated to keep people from watching TV while driving. It is still to be seen whether this particular case could set a new precedence, however.

Commissioner Blair ruled that Abadie was not guilty because she had been cited under the code that required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the device was in operation, and that Odle had failed to provide such proof. The officer had suggested that the hardware for the device was blocking Abadie’s peripheral vision on her right side, but the commissioner noted that Odle had never worn the device and as such rejected the speculation.

However, Blair further found that the language of the code does bar the operation of a video or TV screen or “similar device” when the vehicle is moving. That provision, according to Blair, could be broad enough to apply to Google Glass.

Legislators in at least three US states, including Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia, apparently agree and have already introduced bills that would ban driving with Google Glass.

Abadie, for her part, is ready to fight this even further.

“I believe it’s an initial success but we have a long way to go,” she said, as reported by AP via Bloomberg Businessweek.

“Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it,” Google said in a statement. “Explorers should always use Glass responsibly and put their safety and the safety of others first.”

The search giant had previously addressed this point on its Google Glass FAQ:

“Most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. Read up and follow the law! Above all, even when you're following the law, don't hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road. The same goes for bicycling: whether or not any laws limit your use of Glass, always be careful.”