Fresno driver shouldn’t be ticketed for using map app, court rules

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A Fresno appellate court on Thursday tossed out the conviction of Steven Spriggs, who was given a ticket for using the map feature on his iPhone 4 in heavy Fresno traffic.

The Fifth District Court of Appeal concluded the vehicle code applies to listening and talking on a cell phone while driving — not looking at a map app, said Fresno attorney Scott M. Reddie, who represented Spriggs.

Because the appellate decision was published, courts throughout California can rely on its definition of the law governing cell phones while driving, Reddie said.

It’s not yet known whether the decision applies to motorists who were ticketed in a similar manner and paid the fine, Reddie said. But he said anyone with a such a ticket now can cite the decision in court to possibly avoid a fine and conviction.

Acting Presiding Justice Herbert Levy and Justices Jennifer Detjen and Stephen Kane unanimously approved the appellate decision.

Their decision reversed previous rulings by Court Commissioner Jeff Bird and a three-judge panel of Fresno County Superior Court Judges W. Kent Hamlin, Brian Alvarez and Donald Black.

They found Spriggs guilty of violating a California law that bans motorists from texting or conducting phone conversations with hand-held devices. They rejected Spriggs’ argument that they were expanding the law by refusing to toss out the ticket he got after he was pulled over by a California Highway Patrol officer on Highway 41 near McKinley Avenue in January 2012.

Because of the decision, Reddie said, Springs will be get his estimated $165 fine back.

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