A motorist who uses a hand-held cell phone while stopped at a red light can be prosecuted for using a wireless phone while driving, according to a decision by a state appeals court in San Francisco on Monday.
How to you feel about that? Is being stopped still driving? Should we rid our motorways of anyone holding a cell phone, even if it’s turned off?
A three-judge Court of Appeal panel said a California law that prohibits the use of hand-held wireless phones while driving applies to situations in which a motorist has stopped briefly at a red light. The panel unanimously ruled that the definition of "driving" in the 2007 law includes being at the wheel during "fleeting pauses" in traffic on public streets.
Excluding such stops from the definition of driving would be contrary to the Legislature's intent and "would likely result in significant and numerous public safety hazards on public roadways throughout the state," the court wrote.
The panel upheld a $103 fine imposed on Carl Nelson in Contra Costa County Superior Court for using his hand-held cell phone when stopped at a red light in Richmond on the morning of Dec. 28, 2009.
Nelson argued in his appeal that a stop should not be legally defined as driving and that it is safe to use a cell phone when a car is stationary. But the appeals court said the Legislature "was generally concerned about the use of hand-held wireless telephones in motor vehicles on our public roadways and not just about such use when vehicles are in motion."
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— Bay City News Service