The woman who got ticketed for driving with Google Glass says she’s not guilty. Here’s why.

December 4, 2013

(Cecilia Abadie)

A California woman who was written up for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel is challenging the charge in a San Diego traffic court.

The driver, Cecilia Abadie, has pleaded not guilty — the latest step in the first major case involving Glass and the law. Abadie was pulled over in October for speeding by a California highway patrol officer. When the officer approached her car, he noticed that the video screen on Abadie's gadget was turned on, and he promptly wrote her a citation for it.

Under California's Section 27602, drivers can't have an electronic display turned on and visible unless it's displaying navigational information or data about the car. We don't know exactly what Abadie may have had on the screen, but it seems she intends to skirt that conversation altogether.

According to the Associated Press, Abadie argues through her lawyer that her pair of Glass only turned on when she looked up at the officer who pulled her over, thereby invoking the gesture that wakes the device. Glass, in other words, may not have been actually active while she was driving.

Talking to reporters Tuesday, Abadie's lawyer also added that Glass hadn't been invented when the relevant law was written, and so it doesn't fall into the category of devices covered under Section 27602.

Is that going to be enough to let Abadie off the hook? It's hard to say. Even if Glass is dark while you've got your eyes on the road, if looking up at someone beside your window is enough to trigger the wake function, it's not hard to imagine the same thing happening when you look up at the rearview mirror, or at a tall sign ahead. The thought of Glass turning on every time a driver looks up isn't likely to endear the device to lawmakers who already want to institute a ban.

Brian Fung covers technology for The Washington Post.
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