Google Glass-Wearing Driver Who Received Ticket Fights Charges

By Todd R. Weiss  |  Posted 2013-12-05
Google Glass

Google Glass-Wearing Driver Who Received Ticket Fights Charges

Driving while wearing Google Glass earned a Southern California woman a traffic ticket back in October, and now she is taking her case to court, arguing that she was only wearing the device and not using it when she was stopped.

In a telephone interview with eWEEK, Cecelia Abadie, 44, of Temecula, Calif., said that she pleaded not guilty at a court hearing on Dec. 3 and that she is pursuing the case to seek dismissal of the charges. She was cited for traveling at 80 mph in a 65 mph zone.

After entering her plea, a trial date for the case was set for Jan. 16, 2014, Abadie said.

She had posted a notice about the plea hearing on her Google+ page that included a short video interview with her attorney, William Concidine, who outlined his plans for her defense. In the interview, Concidine said he will argue in court that just wearing a Google Glass device while driving is not illegal, since it does not impair a driver's vision. Also, he said, since Google Glass didn't exist when California's driving laws were written, he will challenge whether they can be considered as an infraction.

"We're going to be challenging the issue of whether Miss Abadie was driving while operating a television or some other media device," as laid out under the state's driving code, Concidine said in the video. "We don't believe that Google Glass falls into that category since it wasn't in existence at the time of the drafting of the law. We're going to be arguing that Miss Abadie's case is unique, it's different, it’s the first of its kind and that there's nothing illegal about wearing Google Glass while driving your vehicle."

eWEEK contacted Concidine, but he had no further comment.

Abadie was ticketed in connection with the incident on Oct. 29 when she was stopped by a California Highway Patrol officer and while she was driving in San Diego. Abadie, who received her Glass device as a Google Glass Explorer on May 1, quickly posted the details of her traffic stop on her Google+ page at the time, expressing shock about the Glass citation and seeking any and all legal advice.

"A cop just stopped me and gave me a ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving!" wrote Abadie. "The exact line says: Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass). Is #GoogleGlass illegal while driving or is this cop wrong??? Any legal advice is appreciated!! This happened in California. Do you know any other #GlassExplorers that got a similar ticket anywhere in the U.S.?"

Abadie told eWEEK earlier that she was heading north on Interstate 15 from San Diego and heading home in her 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid when she was pulled over by a police officer who said she had been caught speeding. As the officer wrote the ticket, she said he also told her that he was writing her up for wearing Google Glass while driving, which he said was a violation of a law that forbids a driver from having a video screen that is visible while operating a motor vehicle.

Google Glass-Wearing Driver Who Received Ticket Fights Charges

She said at the time that she would challenge the ticket once she found a lawyer. Abadie, who works as a product manager for a golf simulator company, also began a startup that is developing a personal trainer app for Glass. She said she was using her car's built-in navigation system just before she was stopped by the police officer.

The ticket received by Abadie is believed to be the first one issued by a California Highway Patrol officer for a Google Glass violation. Officers have leeway for ticketing drivers who are operating motor vehicles while distracted, whether by cell phones, eating, reading or participating in other distracting activities.

The topic of Google Glass potentially being worn by drivers was raised in March in West Virginia, where a state legislator introduced a bill that would have banned driving by persons wearing head-mounted displays, including Google Glass. But the bill stalled and never came up for a vote this year.

The proposed ban on driving while wearing head-mounted displays was introduced in the state's legislature by Gary Howell, a Republican state representative in West Virginia's 56th district. Howell's main concern with the devices is that they create safety issues such as driver distraction, especially for younger, less-experienced drivers who might be among the users most likely to buy such technology. The proposed West Virginia law would have implemented a fine of $100 for a first offense, and $200 to $300 fines for subsequent offenses.

Google Glass has been a topic of conversation among techies since news of it first arrived in 2012. The first Google Glass units began shipping in April 2013 to developers who signed up at the June 2012 Google I/O conference to buy an early set for $1,500 for testing and development; it was the hit of the conference. Google also then began shipping Glass units to lucky users who were selected in the #ifihadglass contest for the opportunity to buy their own early versions of Glass.

Each Google Glass device includes adjustable nose pads and a high-resolution display that Google said is the equivalent of a 25-inch high-definition screen from 8 feet away. The glasses also feature a built-in camera that takes 5-megapixel photos and video at 720p. Audio is delivered to wearers through their bones, using bone-conduction transducers.

Rocket Fuel