LAT: Just looking at your phone while driving is now a crime

I just ordered a phone holder for my car’s vent – I use the GPS – ALL THE TIME!    but don’t you dare HOLD THE PHONE!  (at least NOT in California).  Reading a PAPER map is still legal LOL!

Direction-impaired drivers, prepare to meet your doom.

A California appellate court has ruled that it’s illegal to hold your phone while driving to use it for anything — like checking Google maps, or even looking at an email or text.

The case was brought by Steven R. Spriggs, a 58-year-old professional development officer at Fresno State University. On Jan. 5, 2012, Spriggs found himself in stop-and-go traffic caused by road construction on California 41 near the California 180 interchange. For the uninitiated, that’s basically the middle of Fresno.

It was 6 p.m., and dark, and Spriggs wondered if he got off at the next exit if he could avoid the jam. So he picked up his iPhone 4 and hit the map app. Something out his left window startled him. It was California Highway Patrol motorcycle officer Jack Graham, motioning to him to pull over.

“He said, ‘Pull over, I’m going to write you a ticket for using your cellphone,’” Spriggs told me Tuesday. Graham cited Spriggs for driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone. Not talking on a wireless phone. Not texting on wireless phone. But using the phone.

On April 26, 2012, Spriggs fought his ticket at trial in Fresno County Superior Court. He brought in a paper map and opened it to demonstrate that trying to use a traditional map is much more cumbersome than using an iPhone map. He lost.

Having attended law school, Spriggs decided to file his own appellate brief. There was a hearing — “It took all of 31 seconds,” Spriggs said — then the court took the case under advisement. Months passed.

Last week, he got a call from a Fresno newspaper reporter. “He informed me that I’d lost.”

A three-judge panel of the Appellate Division of Fresno County Superior Court found on March 21 that Spriggs had violated the California law that prohibits distracted driving.

“Our review of the statute’s plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone,” wrote Judge W. Kent Hamlin. “That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails.”

(A clock? As I mentioned, we are doomed.)

“The judge said you can’t touch the unit while you are in the car,”

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