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Cop tickets man for playing online Scrabble while driving

It's all fun and games until someone loses an I.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read
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The Minnesota man ticketed for playing online Scrabble while driving was placing letter tiles on a much smaller screen -- his phone. 

Roger Cheng/CNET

Driving while distracted could spell disaster. A Minnesota police officer last week pulled over a man who was playing online Scrabble while driving. That's different than the Washington state driver who police found earlier this month on the shoulder of a highway playing Pokemon Go on eight screens. At least that guy was pulled over -- the Minnesotan was actually placing letter tiles and driving at the same time.

The Eagan, Minnesota, police department issued a wry tweet about the situation on Aug. 22. "Ticket issued to driver on Yankee Doodle Rd," the tweet read. "To clarify, playing online Scrabble while driving is illegal." The department hashtagged the tweet with #notworthit.

A spokesperson for the Eagan PD told me the traffic officer watched the driver using his phone at a stoplight, then drive away and continue to use the phone. When pulled over, the driver first said he was trying to get his GPS to work. Although use of a hands-free GPS is legal in Minnesota, this obviously wasn't hands-free, so the officer offered to help the driver with the GPS.

"When the driver opened his phone, it showed the online Scrabble game," the spokesperson told me. The driver then admitted to using the game and received a ticket.

"I don't think there was a great 'explanation' as to the use of the phone, but the driver was attempting to conceal the real reason for its use," the spokesman said.

Social media scored big with its criticism of the driver. "Thanks for enforcing the letter of the law," wrote Paul Walsh on Facebook.

"His fine should be a triple score," said a Twitter user.

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