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Drivers may use smartphones for maps says US court

Published on Mar 1, 2014 3:15 AM

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - A California appeals court has tossed out a fine for a driver checking a smartphone map to escape traffic, offering a new interpretation in the crackdown on "distracted driving."

A panel of judges reasoned that the summons and its US$165 (S$208) fine applied to holding mobile phones to converse while driving and said nothing of looking at maps on screens for directions.

"We conclude that the statute means what it says - it prohibits a driver only from holding a wireless telephone while conversing on it," the appellate court said in a written ruling available online Friday. "Consequently, we reverse his conviction."

The driver was sitting in congested traffic when a California Highway Patrol officer noticed him using his smartphone. In a subsequent appearance in court, both the officer and motorist testified he was using a smartphone map service.

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