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Driver Not Culpable for Wearing Google Glass; Wait, What?

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on January 21, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the Internet.

Google Glass brings the Internet right to your face. Indeed, it brings computer functionality to an eyeglass device. So now, you can frolic online literally while on the go.

Is that a good thing? Well, we already live our lives via all sorts of technology, including desktop computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Do we need more? That can be debated in terms of the ramifications of living constantly in cyberspace instead of the here and now of the real world.

But what about safety? Do we want people operating motor vehicles and other types of machinery while potentially distracted by surfing the Web on eyeglass devices? Probably not in most instances. So, let's turn to a real situation, as opposed to theoretical hypotheticals.

Last week, according to The Associated Press, a San Diego traffic court addressed a citation that had been issued to a woman thought to be the first person in the U.S. who had been ticketed for operating a motor vehicle while wearing Google Glass.

Ultimately, the traffic commissioner held that the motorist was not guilty. Wait, what?

The commissioner came to this result because the motorist had been cited pursuant to a code provision that requires proof that the device actually was in use while the motorist was driving. In this case, the police officer did not provide such proof.

But warning everyone, the commissioner did conclude that the code does bar the use of a TV, video screen or similar device in the front of a car while moving -- something that could be broad enough to apply to Google Glass. Similar language may be found in existing traffic laws elsewhere. In addition, the AP reports that at least three states -- New Jersey, Delaware, and West Virginia -- have introduced bills that specifically would ban driving with Google Glass.

The question arises: How is proof to be presented showing Google Glass use while driving? Absent an admission from the driver, perhaps the device and/or records pertaining to the device would have to be analyzed to determine whether the device was being used at the time a police officer suspects motorist use while driving.

Long story short, legal considerations aside, please do not use Google Glass by driving. Indeed, perhaps it should not even be on your face while you are driving, so that you are not suspected of use and so that you are not tempted to use it then.

Just like texting can be a somewhat irresistible urge while in the car, Google Glass could be the same and perhaps even more dangerous. Also, the device might partially block a driver's side vision.

Eric Sinrod is a partner in the San Francisco office of Duane Morris LLP, where he focuses on litigation matters of various types, including information technology and intellectual property disputes. You can read his professional biography here. To receive a weekly email link to Mr. Sinrod's columns, please email him at with Subscribe in the Subject line. This column is prepared and published for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author's law firm or its individual partners.

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