Google Glass: photo by
Google Glass: photo by Ralgis.

On October 29, 2013, Cecilia Abadie, of Temecula, Calif, was driving down I-15 when she noticed the flashing blue lights of a police officer approaching from her rear. After pulling over to the side, California Highway Patrol Officer Keith Odle noticed she was wearing a virtual headset (Google Glass), at which point he proceeded to write her two tickets: one for speeding and one for distracted driving using a “visual monitor” under California vehicle code 27602.

This distracted driving case involving the the upcoming optical head-mounted display (OHMD) Google Glass garnered national attention. Some people took to Abadie’s defense, claiming there’s no specific law prohibiting drivers from wearing headset devices like the Google Glass, while others claimed it was still a form of distracted driving.

In December, Abadie pleaded not guilty to the traffic citation involving the Google Glass. She claimed that although she was wearing the device, it was deactivated until Officer Odle approached her vehicle. When the device noticed the Officer’s voice, it engaged itself. “When I contacted her she was wearing a device on her face known as Google Glass,” said officer Odle in a court testimony.

Last month, San Diego Commissioner John Blair officially announced the dismissal of Abadie’s Google Glass driving case. In a public statement, Commissioner Blair cited a lack of evidence suggesting that Abadie’s Google Glass was turned on while she was driving. Under current California law, it’s only illegal to drive while wearing Google Glass if the device is turned on.

William Concidine, San Diego attorney for Abadie said the following:

Unfortunately, we didn’t get into the larger issue of whether driving with Google Glass while (the device) is operating is a violation or not. I think the next step is what’s the Legislature going to say. As Google Glass becomes available to the general public, are they going to take the additional step and write new law related to Google Glass? Or are they going to allow judges to interpret (existing law) on a case-by-case basis?

With an expected release sometime this year, we’re bound to see more drivers on the road wearing their Google Glass. This will certainly lead to similar cases involving distracted drivers, some of which may not turn out as favorable as it did for Abadie. It’s important to note that Abadie’s case was dismissed for a lack of evidence, not because Google Glass was deemed to legal for drivers to use behind the wheel.

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