Legal Question in Traffic Law in California

My cousin upgraded to a brand new IPhone. He gave me his old one. I thought it was too expensive to set up my own service, so I just use it for its built in IPod to play music and camera capability. It doesnt have a SIMM card in it or any phone service so it is completely incapable of being used as a phone, texting device or GPS device. I only use it, when I am not driving, to listen to music with headphones. I maintain that its my IPod and not technically, by definition of what should classify as a phone, because it does not have the electronic insides, SIMM card and phone service to be able to use as a phone or GPS device. I can not operate it as a GPS device or phone because its electronically incapable of being used that way. I was driving down road and a parked policeman saw me plug it in my phone charger that connects to my cigarette lighter jack. This only took a second. The device was completely dead, screen black and off, and I took a second to plug, what I classify as my IPOD, not IPHONE into my cigarette lighter charger. Anyway, the cop cites me for OPERATING A GPS DEVICE WHILE DRIVING, which the device is incapable of doing. You need the internal electronics and Internet service to be able to use it as a GPS device, which I didnt have. I feel I was just plugging in my charger to a device, just as if it was a flashlight or similar device that charges from cigarette lighter jack. I tried to explain this to cop that the device was incapable of being used for the crime I was being charged with but he told me to take it to court if I wanted. My court date is May 1st and the penalty is 200 which I think is excessive. Do I have any kind of case seeing that I am being charged with operating a GPS device when technically it is not physically capable of being used as a GPS device?


Asked on 4/14/13, 9:32 am

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1 Answer from Attorneys

Steven Mandell Law Offices of Steven R. Mandell

It seems to me that you have a complete defense to the charge. Although I have never heard of the charge of OPERATING A GPS DEVICE WHILE DRIVING, there is a charge of talking on a cell phone while driving, but your defense will work for either. Plead not guilty, post the bail, and ask for a trial date. When that date comes, tell the judge exactly what you've written here. The charge should be dismissed. BTW, if the cop doesn't show up for the trial, the ticket will be dismissed without you ever having to say anything, so you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain by taking it to trial. If you'd like to speak to me about this answer, don't hesitate to call me. Steve Mandell 310 393 90639

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Answered on 4/14/13, 9:56 am


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