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Name: People v. Spriggs
Case #: F066927
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 5 DCA
Opinion Date: 02/27/2014

Driver does not violate Vehicle Code prohibition against using cell phone while driving where he was not “talking or listening,” but was looking at a map. A CHP officer cited Spriggs for prohibited use of a wireless telephone while driving after the officer saw him check a traffic map on his phone. (Veh. Code, § 23123, subd. (a).) Spriggs claimed he was not “using” the phone within the meaning of the statute. Held: Reversed. Section 23123, subdivision (a) prohibits a driver from using a wireless telephone unless it is configured for hands-free “listening and talking” and is used in that manner while driving. Based on the wording of the statute, it does not require that the phone be used in a manner that allows for “hands-free looking,” or “hands-free operation.” The legislative history of the law reflects it was focused on prohibiting a driver from holding a wireless telephone while conversing on it. This interpretation is bolstered by later laws, such as section 23123.5, which prohibit texting while driving, as they would not have been necessary if section 23123 applied to all non-hands-free “uses” of wireless telephones while driving.