I remember driving my car while listening to my Sony Walkman when I was a teenager because my car did not have a functioning radio. For those of you who are too young to know what a Walkman, allow me to explain. It is an iPod, only much bigger. Anyway, I never got a traffic ticket for it, but I knew it was illegal at the time. Only later did I realize that it was in fact dangerous and should not have done it. Today, there are so many distractions in your car, listening to music almost sound quaint. Now you have satellite radio, Pandora, navigation screens, telephones, smart phones and texting. Well the folks at Google may have made the grand daddy of distractions in Google glass. Basically, it is your internet, telephone, smart phone, GPS, email and texting all wrapped into one. You wear the glasses and there is a screen off to the side, or in the glass which acts like a heads up display when you look through it. Sounds great if you are stationary, but what if you are driving a 3,000 lb car while doing all of these things. We don’t know yet, but a woman in California does.
She was ticketed for wearing Google glasses. The officer said it obstructed her view. It has not been litigated in Court yet, but there is a good argument for both the driver and the cop. Technically, you are looking through the glass, thus it’s no different than a heads up display on some cars. A heads up display is when the information on your dashboard is projected onto your windshield so you can see it without taking your eyes off the road. However, nobody can argue that doing all the things that Google glasses does is not distracting. Also, it is hard to argue that it does not obstruct your view. The law has failed to keep up with technology in so many areas, but this is truly novel. So, how would a traffic ticket for wearing Google glasses in Florida be handled?
FLORIDA LAW ON GOOGLE GLASSES TRAFFIC TICKET
There is no law specifically addressing Google glasses, but I suspect Florida Statutes Section 316.303 might apply. The law states:
(1) No motor vehicle operated on the highways of this state shall be equipped with television-type receiving equipment so located that the viewer or screen is visible from the driver’s seat.
(2) This section does not prohibit the use of television-type receiving equipment used exclusively for safety or law enforcement purposes, provided such use is approved by the department.
(3) This section does not prohibit the use of an electronic display used in conjunction with a vehicle navigation system.
(4) A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a nonmoving violation as provided in chapter 318.
Although this statute could be used to ticket a driver for wearing Google glasses, an argument could be made either way. Yes, Google glasses is a “television-type receiving equipment so located that the viewer or screen is visible from the driver’s seat.” However, it can also be used “in conjunction with a vehicle navigation system.” So what should you do? First of all, the product is yet to be made available to the mass market. But it is only a matter of time. Second, there could be new laws put into effect that could clarify this issue. However, if you are in the beta test for Goggle glasses and you live in Florida, I say if you go for it, call me. I don’t suggest driving with them because I do think they are a huge distraction. However, if you do wear them I would love to be the first lawyer in Florida to challenge the law. So if you get caught, give me a call and I will fight your traffic ticket for wearing Google glasses for FREE.