According to a court ruling from the California Court of Appeals (via Orin Kerr), using a mobile phone such as Apple's iPhone to check or update a mapping or GPS program violates the state's distracted driving law. Vehicle Code 23123, aka the distracted driving law, was developed to prohibit drivers from texting and making handheld calls with a mobile phone.
The ruling came in late March after a driver was cited for driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone. The driver, who was accessing the phone for directions, argued that he had not been using the phone for talking or texting, which led to the newly expanded law.
This case requires us to determine whether using a wireless phone solely for its map application function while driving violates Vehicle Codesection 23123. We hold that it does.
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. 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.
The expanded law applies only to mobile phones, not to in-car touch-controlled navigation systems. iPhone users who need to access maps for directions can use Apple's Siri for handsfree GPS access.