Safety Suggestion for Using Your Smartphone Map While Driving

California law states that “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.” ( California Senate Bill # 1613),  As car accident attorneys we have been asked by people how they might be able to use their smartphone maps while driving without violating this law.

To begin with many people thought that law #1613 applied only to texting and talking on the phone while driving and not to using their phone map system while driving.  These people thought that using the GPS map function while driving did not violate California law. As will be seen below, these people were wrong.

A recent California Appeals Court said that using your Smartphone map to navigate while driving is illegal under California law # 1613.

In the People Of The State of California v. Stephen Spriggs, Mr. Spriggs argued that he should not have received a ticket for using his Smartphone while driving because he was only using the phone’s GPS.  The Appellate Court said that law # 1613 also prohibited the use of the Smartphone’s navigation system while driving.

With this new ruling, many drivers may wonder how to legally use their Smartphone when they are driving; lost, and need a map.  Here is a suggestion which may alleviate this problem.

Complying with the new court ruling may be as simple as not using your hands to hold or touch the phone while using the navigation system.  This might be done by mounting the cell phone onto the dashboard, such as is done with Garmin and TomTom navigator systems.

Before you begin driving, input the address of your destination and leave your phone in the map function. If you need to change directions after you begin driving, pull over safely and input the new destination.

This would seem to bring your phone into compliance with law # 1613 because your phone is not being used for anything but navigating.

An auto accident attorney can help explain how this court decision might affect you. At the Law Offices of John P. Burns, we know how changes in California laws affect you, the driver, especially if you are in an accident where the other driver was using an electronic device.  It’s free to ask questions, so contact us directly at (877) 320-1338 or email us at We’ll be sure to get back to you within 24 hours.