October 31, 2013 • Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
It’s been reported by LAist that a California woman was issued a traffic ticket for driving while wearing Google Glass. People are wondering whether or not it’s illegal. That’s not a question easily answered.
According to a photo of the citation posted online, the driver was cited for violating California Vehicle Code Section 27602(a), an infraction for driving while “a television receiver, a video monitor, or a television or video screen, or any other similar means of visually displaying a television broadcast or video signal that produces entertainment or business applications, is operating and is located in the motor vehicle at a point forward of the back of the driver’s seat, or is operating and the monitor, screen, or display is visible to the driver while driving the motor vehicle.”
So the action here is whether or not Google Glass was “operating” at the time the motorist was stopped Can the officer who made the stop testify that was able to tell whether or not the Google Glass was on and operating at the time the motorist was actually driving the vehicle? The motorist should take this to a trial since there’s no downside if she loses.
The Google Glass case raises another issue as well: Reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle. As any qualified criminal defense attorney knows, traffic stops aren’t about traffic safety. Traffic stops are about the police leveraging a reason to stop motorists to conduct investigations as to larger crimes. Ever wonder why a police officer seems to be glancing around your car whenever you get pulled over? They are looking, smelling and listening for anything that may give them probable cause to search your car.
Is the very act of wearing Google Glass enough for a cop to stop your car and “investigate” whether or not it’s operating at the time of driving? And how would such an investigation look? Can the cops demand to “search” the device to see when it was last working? Recent case law has held that police don’t need a search warrant to search cell phones. Is the same true for Google Glass? Or is this more akin to a search of a computer? And while we’re at it, what’s the difference between a smartphone and a computer anyway? Why do you need a warrant to search a computer but not a smartphone? Which category does Google Glass fall into?
If you or a loved one is accused of a criminal offense, contact the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 or via the secure contact form on this page for a free and confidential consultation.