California Outlaws In-Car Smartphone Navigation Systems

By Jennifer Geiger  on April 8, 2013

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If you don't have an in-car navigation system or are annoyed by the one you do have, what do you do? Pull out your smartphone and enable its GPS function, right? Not in California. It's now illegal to use while driving.

The state is broadening what it considers distracted driving to include using a GPS-enabled phone for navigation. Techcrunch.com is reporting that a federal appeals court in Fresno County recently ruled that "distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock or a device for sending and receiving text messages and emails."

What's unclear from the ruling is if a hands-free version of the GPS-enabled phone would be allowed. Talking and texting while driving are already illegal in California unless the phone is configured for hands-free use.

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Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan.  Email Jennifer