Charges dismissed for woman ticketed for wearing Google Glass while driving
A judge rules there was not enough evidence to prove the device was on
Some states are pushing for laws that specifically ban the use of Glass while driving
Officers in California can still ticket drivers for wearing Google Glass
It may have been the most anticipated traffic court date ever.
Southern California resident Cecilia Abadie appeared in San Diego traffic court on Thursday for speeding and for wearing Google Glass while driving. It is considered the first time someone has been cited for wearing the face-mounted technology while driving.
Commissioner John Blair threw out both charges, stating there wasn’t enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Google Glass was turned on at the time. It is only illegal to wear the device while driving if it is operational.
Abadie was pulled over in October for speeding by the California Highway Patrol. The officer then cited her for wearing Google Glass under California vehicle code 27602, which prohibits operating a video-display in front of the driver’s head rest where it can distract the driver. The law was originally drafted to keep people from watching TV while driving.
Google Glass is Google’s early version of a head-mounted computer display. A small square monitor sits above the right eye, just out of the normal line of vision. To view information on the display like a map or text message, the wearer must look up.
Google Glass defenders claim Glass is safer to use while driving than a smartphone since it can be voice controlled and you only have to glance up to view the Glass display. Many rallied to Abadie’s defense, even starting a #freececilia hashtag on Twitter.
When asked to comment on the case, a Google spokesperson sent the following statement to CNN:
“Glass is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract you from it. As we make clear in our help center, Explorers should always use Glass responsibly and put their safety and the safety of others first.
“It’s early days for Glass and we look forward to hearing feedback from Explorers and others in advance of a wider consumer launch this year.”
On Google’s Glass FAQ page, the company warns: “Most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. Read up and follow the law!”
“Anything that distracts you from driving is something that were concerned about,” said CHP Public Affairs Officer Jake Sanchez.
While the ruling was a big win for Abadie, a product manager who wears her Glass 12 hours a day (she rested them around her neck while in the courtroom), it is not a green light for Google Glass wearers to freely wear and use their devices while driving.
“It doesn’t necessarily answer the question everybody wanted: Is it legal to drive down the road wearing Google Glass while it’s operating?” said William Concidine of My Traffic Guys. Concidine and his partner, Gabriel Moore, are the traffic ticket attorneys who defended Abadie in court on Thursday.
Google Glass wearers in California can still be pulled over and cited for wearing the head-mounted displays while driving. Whether they get a warning or a ticket will be up to the individual officer. Getting a charges dismissed will then be up to individual traffic court judges.
“There is no law that that specifically says Google Glass is illegal. Each officer has to take each case on a case-by-case basis,” said Sanchez.
A dismissal in court is not uncommon for traffic violations, and this ruling will not change how CHP officers view distracted driving.
“I do think it leaves it up in the air for Google Glass wearers,” said Concidine. “They have to wear it with the possibility that they may get a ticket that they’ll have to fight until a legislator takes some sort of action.”
Three states have already drafted laws that specifically ban Google Glass while driving: Delaware, West Virginia and New Jersey.