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How far should cops go when enforcing driver phone rules?

California law prohibits drivers from using a handheld mobile device while operating their vehicles. The law is aimed at preventing dangerous, and often deadly, distracted driving car accidents. However, one man says law enforcement is taking their campaign a bit too far.

The man was convicted on distracted driving charges after he was pulled over in 2012 for looking at a map on his cellphone.

The incident occurred while the man was stuck in traffic during rush hour. Traffic was at a complete stop, so he pulled up a map on his phone to see if he could find a better alternate route. He was seen by a highway patrol officer, who ordered the driver to pull over.

The driver challenged his ticket, arguing that it seemed silly to cite him when there was no chance of his behavior causing a car accident or other safety problem. In fact, traffic was so stalled that the highway patrol officer actually had his foot on the ground when he asked the driver to pull over. The driver says he fully supports California's distracted driving laws, but thinks they need enforced in a way that makes sense.

The California Highway Patrol, though, stands behind its officer's decision. It says the law clearly prohibits using a handheld device while operating a vehicle, which is exactly what the driver was doing in this situation.

Whatever the outcome of this case, it is important to remember that distracted driving is a big problem in California and throughout the country. Distracted driving claimed more than 3,300 lives nationwide in 2011. In 2012, approximately 450,000 Californians were ticketed for cellphone violations.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Driver ticketed for using iPhone's map app isn't giving up yet," Robin Abcarian, April 25, 2013

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