Drivers in California can legally read a map on their hand-held cellphones while behind the wheel, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
The 5th District Court of Appeal reversed the case of a Fresno man who was ticketed in January 2012 for looking at a map on his iPhone 4 while stuck in traffic. The driver, Steven Spriggs, challenged the $165 fine and won.
Spriggs was caught up by road work, and grabbed his cellphone to find an alternate route when a California Highway Patrol officer on a motorcycle spotted him and stopped him to write the ticket.
In their 18-page ruling, the appellate judges said California’s law prohibiting people from talking on their cellphones without a hands-free device could have been written more clearly, but it doesn’t apply to looking at maps on cellphones.
The law the officer used to ticket Spriggs applies specifically to people “listening and talking” on cellphones, not using their mobile phone in other ways, the court said.