Google Glass Milestone: Driver Ticketed For Wearing Google Glass

from the ...yay? dept

Even before its release, Google’s augmented reality product engendered speculation and fear. Some groups fear its possible application for surveillance. I’ve heard some loose talk about how this type of HUD-link is one step closer to man’s incorporating computers into our biology, with some barely coherent suggestions that the eventuality will be part-human terminators walking around and stomping on puppies or something. It seems some of my fellow human beings have played Deus Ex and decided that its some sort of future-telling device.

Still, the progress of this kind of technology marches on despite this kind of talk and its always fun to watch a specific kind of technology “grow up”, as it were. Google Glass has reached its next milestone as a technology product, now that someone is facing legal consequences for wearing it while operating a motor vehicle.

California-based Glass Explorer Cecilia Adabie is the first person to get a ticket while wearing Google’s head-mounted computer. And she won’t be the last. Abadie was driving in San Diego when an officer pulled her over for speeding. The primary infraction was for going 15 mph over the speed limit, but there was a secondary offense scrawled on the ticket: “driving w/ monitor visible to driver (Google Glass).”

Interestingly, the law being applied by the officer doesn’t seem to be in any way intended for this kind of application. Instead, California Vehicle Code Section 27602 is focused on operating video screens within an automobile that are within view of the operator, such as television screens. You know those flip-down TVs in the backseats of cars? Those had started to creep into the front seat as an increasing number of Darwin-award-aspiring drivers thought they could multitask catching up on their favorite reality TV shows while commuting to work and back.

However, the law gives leave of these rules certain kinds of displays that are installed into the vehicle, such as vehicle information banks, GPS screens, and mapping screens. Google Glass has some of these applications while also achieving the hands-free requirement that has been oft placed on mobile devices that do the same. The only real differences between what’s allowed and what Google Glass is are additional applications in the headset and the fact that it is worn rather than installed onto the dash or console of the car. All of which is enough to wonder whether Abadie was breaking the law, whether the law is useful with respect to Google Glass, and whether or not this officer was acting of his or her own accord or if this is the result of an edict from on high. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only thing in this case to consider.

According to Abadie’s post on Google+, Glass wasn’t functioning when she was driving (you’ve got to issue a voice command or swipe the side to get it running), but that didn’t seem to be the issue — the arresting officer said “it was blocking my view.”

Now we have a problem, because it seems to me that if the officer said that the screen in Google Glass being on wasn’t a factor, I don’t really understand why he or she would cite a law that is all about screens being on. And if the problem is that Google Glass in some way restricts vision (and it does, slightly, peripherally), then we’re in a different ballgame that should result in a great many kinds of non-technological eyewear, sunglasses in particular, resulting in similar citations, which I’ve never even heard of.

In any case, congratulations Google Glass. You’re now in a technological adolescence, celebrated by your first automobile citation. Sniff, they grow up so fast.

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Comments on “Google Glass Milestone: Driver Ticketed For Wearing Google Glass”

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Eeekou says:

Re: Re: nightvision

…as soon as they’re convenient and safe to use. The nightvision or see-though-walls in Deus Ex has always confused me if used in the wrong places. 😉

Augmentation in Deus Ex is actually pretty cool, dear author – just in case you are atill, as you were in your article, mixing it up with the Terminator.

As for the laws regarding driving and TV/monitor screens, it seems to me the law is always a decade to 15 years behind the latest technology. Here in Germany for instance, battery-powered bicycle lights are technically illegal despite the fact that everybody buys them. I bet the law in question was created/last updated when TVs in cars were the latest hype. Oh, goody old days.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Almost sounds like the classic ‘your taillight was out’ move, where the officer figured they’d have an easy way to pad the ticket out due to the visor, then when told that it wasn’t even on backtracked and claimed that it simply being there was enough(which if true, would, as the article notes, cover a whole range of things that could partially obscure vision).

Anonymous Coward says:

From what I understand that law was passed to inhibit drivers from watching TV while driving(who does that?), so the law was worded to include any monitor that can be used for that purpose and in it legislators thought they would be smart by not discriminating if the monitor is on or off, just by being there, with exceptions for some types which includes monitors that the car is aware of and disable themselves for anything but informational functions while the car is moving.

I can see how those laws will quickly become useless.
Is not just Google Glass, is the next generation of cars that will have embedded all that functionality directly, forcing either officer to actually be aware of all the brands and what they do or facing higher and higher numbers of challenges in court.

Hope driverless cars start popping out soon, then nobody will care.

Which raises some questions too, how would be a car programmed to follow certain rules be able to be ticket?

Anonymous Coward says:

I read her posts on G+. She was speeding and admits that, she says she thought she was in a faster speed zone. So for her sake hopefully the courts won’t look that up or they might have an excuse to say she was distracted which may give weight to CVCS 27602. (IANAL) That law BTW applies to dedicated devices and that’s a pretty major difference in my book, someone could just as easily be reading the news instead of using GPS. A way to detect when someone is in a car’s driver’s seat and switch to a telemetry & GPS only mode would be kinda cool.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Google Glass and regular glasses have the same restriction

That is that your peripheral is slightly limited.

I got pulled over once because my back windshield was cracked. When I pointed out that I could see quite clearly and the crack in the windshild was not blocking my view. The officer (looking to fill the city coffers with money) discovered that my driver’s license had a different city. So he wrote me up for not calling the DMV and updating my address (I had moved to this new city 3 months ago). Apparently this offence is a $50 fine. Seriously?!? for a DL not having the correct address?

Welcome to America. One Nation Under Arrest.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:


Instead, California Vehicle Code Section 27602 is focused on operating video screens within an automobile that are within view of the operator, such as television screens.

If this ludicrous law applies to google glass, does it not also apply to smartphones? Wouldn’t that mean 1/2 of California is likely to be done for it?

OK I’m not in the US, but I imagine I’m hardly unique even there and I’ve never had a dedicated GPS device and have always used apps on smartphones. In fact several “dedicated GPS devices” I’ve seen have other functions these days and since not one of such things has “an interlock device that, when the motor vehicle is driven, disables the equipment for all uses except as a visual display as described in paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive”, they would seem to be illegal under this (seemingly very poorly thought out) law.

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: but...?

If this ludicrous law applies to google glass,
> does it not also apply to smartphones?

Yes, technically in California, we’re in the ludicrous position of being able to legally use GPS devices– whether incorporated into the dash of the vehicle or stand-alone devices affixed to the dashboard or window– so long as they are dedicated GPS devices and nothing else.

But if the device you’re using has cell phone capability, then you can’t legally use it as a GPS device while driving, even though there’s no actual practical difference in terms of driver safety between the two.

Bottom line: standalone GPS device = legal
GPS iPhone app = illegal

It’s idiotic and most cops know that and won’t ticket for it, but there’s always the isolated case where the cop either is just an asshole or the driver is an asshole and the cop uses the technicality as a little bit of karma.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: but...?

and the cop uses the technicality as a little bit of karma.

I guess this is usually the way it happens and I also believe that most stupid laws like this are probably written with the best intentions (though likely a very jerky knee too).
However, in the current climate especially, laws like this that clearly don’t fit reality strike me as extremely dangerous, if not fatal, to the “free” countries we are supposed to live in. When you are in the situation where you are de-facto guilty of several “crimes” there is always the temptation for law enforcement to use them to circumvent due process when they suspect someone of something more serious that they know they can’t prove.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m sure she was stopped for speeding and then probably pulled one of those classic moves of getting aggravated at the officer for not letting her off with a warning. So the officers just decided to find another thing he could ticket for.

Also if the glasses were off, why didn’t she just take it off? How does the officer know she didn’t just turn it off between the time he pulled her over and walked up to the window?

TL;DR I’m assuming she was a glasshole.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

She was stopped for speeding and then started arguing with the cop. The cop gave her a ticket for speeding and whatever else he could pile on, like pretty much any cop would (this isn’t right, of course, but happens all the time, so it certainly isn’t news).

Then she grabbed her megaphone and started shouting how she was being oppressed by a Glass hater, conveniently omitting the fact that she was actually stopped for speeding (she eventually admitted that she was stopped for speeding). Other glassholes then joined in and multiplied the noise.

End result? A bunch of weenies pick up and spread the “Google Glass hate” narrative without bothering to learn about the details.

The only thing that is surprising in this whole story is that it took Techdirt so long to bitch about this. They are generally a lot quicker to blindly latch onto whatever is trendy in the social media.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

There’s no discussion to be had. She’s already hooked for an infraction. Everything else is just the officer piling on whatever he can. I bet that if she had a broken tail-light, the cop would add that instead/too. This is standard M.O.

Let’s discuss that practice instead, and ignore the Glass. The Glass is just being used here to rile people up for no good reason, when the real problem is this habit the police has to pile absolutely everything they can on you.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

The glass is the only part of the story that is worth discussion in this forum, in my opinion. Yes, cops piling on is a big problem, but that sort of thing isn’t really the primary focus of this site.

By my reading of the relevant statute, I don’t think that Google Glass violates it, but there is room for interpretation there. Viola! A discussion to be had.

Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

By my reading of the relevant statute, I don’t think that Google Glass violates it, but there is room for interpretation there.

Well, I’m not a lawyer but a plain text reading of the link would suggest that, since (AFAIK) Google Glass can play video and doesn’t have a “dedicated lock out while driving”, it would be covered by the statute. Of course that means that smartphones would be as well so I guess the question is, would the officer have equally ticketed her for having a smartphone strapped to a mount on the windscreen in lieu of a satnav?
Either way it’s a dumb law, which is worth a discussion of course

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

How does the officer know she didn’t just
> turn it off between the time he pulled her
> over and walked up to the window?

That’s really irrelevant. In the U.S., the state has the burden of proving you guilty. They can’t just assume you might have been doing something wrong, but since they can’t tell one way or the other, they get to err on the side of punishing you for it.

If they could just assume guilt based on the available opportunity for you to commit a violation and the ease with which you could cover it up, they could cite every person they stop with all sorts of things.

Seatbelt violation– Yes, she was wearing the belt when I walked up to the car, but how do I know she didn’t just put it on when she saw me in her rearview mirror?

Cell phone violation– Yes, the phone was off and lying on the passenger seat when I walked up to the car, but how do I know he wasn’t texting (or watching videos on it, or whatever) and didn’t just turn it off between the time I pulled him over and the time I walked up to the car?

There’d be no end to what a creative cop could cite you for because you might have been doing something wrong. That’s why we require them to produce proof in court– precisely to prevent that kind of crap.

Anonymous Coward says:

I came up with some ideas for Google glasses. They should come up with a hand held controller that lets you control it. The exact interface needs to be worked out but perhaps you can control it with your phone connected to it via bluetooth. You have a pointer/arrow that you see on the glass and you can hold the phone in your pocket and control it with your thumb. That’s one possible idea.

Another idea could be that the glasses could have a back camera that could allow you to see what’s behind you (when you enable it) on a small screen or using one of the eye pieces. Probably not that useful but it could be in some situations. Or maybe what’s to your side.

If the glasses could enable better night vision that would be a bonus 😉

None of these obvious ideas are subject to patents or IP.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Interesting Note

Most of the distracted driving laws usually have exemptions for emergency personal and citizens in emergency situations.

The province I’m in currently does not allow the use of cell phones (except handsfree), GPS devices, laptops, etc. while operating a vehicle. But there are exceptions for emergency personal and everyone can use a cell phone while driving to call 911. There is also an exemption for commercial drivers to be able to use their CB radios.

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