by David Taub

Four and a half years ago in January 2012, a fundraiser for Fresno State checked his GPS map on his cell phone while driving. A CHP officer pulled him over and issued a ticket for using a cell phone while driving. Steven Spriggs challenged the law and eventually, the state appellate court agreed with him.

The court ruled that when lawmakers passed a ban holding a cell phone while making a call or texting while driving in 2008, it did not apply to other uses. Thus, Spriggs and millions of other California drivers are legal when using other apps such as navigation tools.

Now, the state legislature updated the law to ban most uses. Governor Jerry signed AB 1785 into law this week. It now narrowly defines how a cell device can be used in cars:

(1) The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in the same manner a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) is mounted pursuant to paragraph (12) of subdivision (b) of Section 26708 or is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road.

(2) The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.

Breaking it down, the device must be mounted on the dash or center council. And, the device may only be used with “a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.”

The bill, authored by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), had mixed support from Valley politicians. In the assembly, Adam Gray (D-Merced), Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) and Juan Arambula (D-Fresno) supported the bill while Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals), Jim Patterson (R-Fresno/Clovis) and Devon Mathis (R-Visalia) voted no; in the senate Andy Vidak (R-Hanford), Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield), Tom Berryhill (R-Twain Harte) and Anthony Canella (R-Ceres) voted no.

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