Google Glass, the innovative computer headware just creeping out into the marketplace, passed one of its first legal challenges Thursday, but it is unclear how much precedence is set by a commissioner in San Diego traffic court.
Commissioner John Blair tossed Cecelia Abadie’s ticket for distracted driving, but issued a narrow ruling that there was reasonable doubt the glasses were turned on, and its presence on the driver’s head weren’t sufficient cause to think it was. Abadie, from Temecula, said she was glad she won her case, but was hoping for a ruling that even if the glasses were turned on, they wouldn’t be considered a distraction.
It may be the first time a driver was ticketed for wearing the high-tech apparatus.
Abadie, a Google Glass test participant, was pulled over for speeding by the California Highway Patrol on the Interstate 15 in October, but the officer added driving distracted to the ticket, which Abadie posted online. The ticket reads in part: “Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass).” The judge also tossed the speeding ticket.
Google Glass is a wearable computer device that allows hands-free access to information that is displayed on a lens strapped to the user’s head. It lets users make telephone calls, send emails, snap photos and perform tasks as yet unknown using voice-operated commands and hand movements.
CHP Officer Keith Odle testified that Abadie pulled up behind him while he was driving 80 mph and seemed not to notice he was in a marked police car before speeding past him when he switched lanes. He speculated she was looking at her Google Glass.
The story attracted national attention and raised questions about the future of a technology capable of projecting images on to windshields, motorcycle visors, microscopes, camera finders, binoculars and telescopes.
California’s Vehicle Code 27602 prohibits a person from driving a motor vehicle “if a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.”
The law does not apply to GPS, a mapping display, vehicle information display and a host of other displays if they come installed on the car and meet other specifications. In other words, it’s complicated.
Abadie’s attorney, William Concidine, hopes the Legislature uncomplicates it. Concidine told the U-T San Diego, “I think the next step is what’s the Legislature going to say. As Google Glass becomes available to the general public, are they going to take the additional step and write new law related to Google Glass? Or are they going to allow judges to interpret (existing law) on a case-by-case basis?”