California motorist cleared on technicality in Google Glass case

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A San Diego traffic court threw out a
citation Thursday against a woman believed to be the first motorist in
the country ticketed for driving while wearing a Google Glass
computer-in-eyeglass device.
Commissioner John Blair ruled that
Cecilia Abadie was not guilty because she had been cited under a code
that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the device was in
operation, which the officer did not provide.
However, Blair did
find that the language of the code specifically bars the operation of a
video or TV screen or similar device on the front of a vehicle while it
is moving — a provision that Blair said could be broad enough to apply
to Google Glass.
The device in a kind of glass-wear frame features a thumbnail-size transparent display above the right
said she was happy she won her case but hoped the court would have
ruled that Google Glass is legal to wear while driving whether activated
or not.
"I believe it’s an initial success but we have a long way
to go," said Abadie, wearing the device outside the courthouse after
the ruling.
Legal experts say the lower court ruling does not set a
legal precedent but marks the beginning of a number of cases they
expect courts to confront as lawmakers struggle to keep pace with
fast-evolving technology.
"The fun is just starting," said Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Standford Law School.
driverless cars to wearable devices that can enhance human functions,
Wadhwa said, there are a host of legal questions to be answered. For
example, when a Google-operated car is on the road and hits someone, who
is responsible — the passenger, car manufacturer or software developer?
a software developer, is among thousands of "explorers" who have been
selected to try out Google Glass before the technology becomes widely
available to the public later this year.
Abadie was cited after
being pulled over for speeding on a San Diego freeway in October and the
California Highway Patrol officer noticed she was wearing Google Glass.
Keith Odle, a 10-year veteran of the CHP, testified Thursday that the
"hardware for this device was blocking her peripheral vision on her
right side," and that’s why she sped by his patrol car at 85 mph in her
Toyota Prius.
Blair rejected that as speculation, noting that Odle
had never worn the device. He also threw out Odle’s documentation of
her speed and found Abadie not guilty of that count.
The commissioner also asked Odle to turn off his cellphone after it rang twice interrupting the
attorney William Concidine said the device was not activated when she
was driving and the code was irrelevant because it does not specifically
state that drivers are barred from using Google Glass.
He said
Thursday he hopes the case will spur lawmakers to review legislation on
the issue, otherwise the code will be open to interpretation by
individual courts.
The lightweight frames are equipped with a
hidden camera and tiny display that responds to voice commands. The
technology can be used to do things such as check email, learn
background about something the wearer is looking at, or to get driving
Legislators in at least three states — Delaware, New
Jersey and West Virginia — have introduced bills that would ban driving
with Google Glass.
After the ruling, Google said it has warned early Glass adopters to exercise caution.
is built to connect you more with the world around you, not distract
you from it," Google said in a statement. "Explorers should always use
Glass responsibly and put their safety and the safety of others first."
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or