Google Glass earns woman a ticket while driving

Tori Floyd

The same week that Google announced it would be updating and expanding the availability of its Project Glass devices, debate over when it’s appropriate to be sporting Glass has reignited.

Google Glass user Cecilia Abadie posted an image of a ticket she received from a police officer to her Google+ account, citing her for using Google Glass while driving:

A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!

The exact line says: Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass).

Is #GoogleGlass ilegal while driving or is this cop wrong???

Any legal advice is appreciated!! This happened in California. Do you know any other #GlassExplorers that got a similar ticket anywhere in the US?

Phandroid’s story about the incident quickly gained traction on Reddit, prompting users to discuss what the legal ramifications of wearing the tiny computer screen while driving are. Some suggest that it counts as the driver watching a video screen while in motion, and that even if she was using it to navigate, if it has the potential to be an entertainment device, she’d be in violation of California’s traffic laws. Phandroid argues that unless the police officer can prove she was watching videos while driving, she shouldn’t be charged.

But the reality is, there are no laws in place to currently govern the use of wearable technology while driving. Sgt. Dave Woodford of the Ontario Provincial Police Highway Safety Division told Yahoo Canada News that the technology is currently so new, there’s no legislation in this province to govern it yet.

“I’m sure technology and legislation will change as these devices come onto the market,” Sgt. Woodford said. “It’s no different than cell phones. We had to put some sort of legislation in place [for mobile devices], which is now the distracted driving legislation.”

Woodford stressed that the current legislation in regards to distracted driving is very specific in that the driver cannot be using a device in their hands to be in violation. Devices that are mounted in the car are fine, so long as they aren’t being used to watch videos or other forms of entertainment. If it’s being used for navigation, that’s acceptable. You can read exactly what Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act says on the issue here.

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Even in cases when a device is being used for navigation, though, Sgt. Woodford says that if drivers are distracted for any reason and are not exercising due care and control of their vehicle, they can be charged with careless driving.

Abadie’s ticket also included a speeding violation, so had the incident occurred on an Ontario road, the officer could have argued that wearing Glass lead to her not following the rules of the road – although it might be a tough argument to make.

Nevertheless, the outcome of Abadie’s ticket will likely set a precedent going forward for when and where people can use Google Glass – something that’s already happening in public spaces like bars.

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