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Google Glass wearer challenges distracted driving charge

Is Cecilia Abadie guilty of distracted driving for wearing Google Glass behind the wheel? She says no.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
Google Glass wearer Cecilia Abadie says she not guily of distracted driving.
Google Glass wearer Cecilia Abadie says she not guily of distracted driving. One Minute News/Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

A woman issued a ticket in California for wearing Google Glass while driving is fighting back.

In a tweet, Cecilia Abadie said that she pleaded not guilty to the charge in court on Tuesday morning. The self-proclaimed geek and Google Glass pioneer has acknowledged that she was wearing the high-tech specs while driving but claimed they were powered off. As such, her contention is that simply wearing Glass behind the wheel is not against the law.

Abadie's attorney, William Concidine, told the Associated Press that his client will testify in San Diego traffic court in January that the glasses were turned off while she was driving but were activated when she looked up at the officer who stopped her. Abadie was actually pulled over for and charged with speeding, but the officer tacked on an extra citation of distracted driving after spotting Google Glass on her face.

Concidine revealed more details to reporters in a videotaped statement shared via Abadie's Google + account:

We're going to be challenging the issue of whether Miss Abadie was driving while operating a television or some other media device. We don't believe Google Glass falls into the category as it wasn't in existence at the time of the drafting of the law. We're going to be arguing that Miss Abadie's case is unique. It's different. It's the first of its kind. And there's nothing illegal about wearing Google Glass while driving your vehicle. Also, the sub-issue is: is it illegal to even have Google Glass on your head while driving. We feel that's completely legal to do so because it's not impairing your vision while driving. This issue's going to be whether it was operating while Miss Abadie was driving the vehicle.

Abadie told the AP last month that she was pretty sure she was going to fight the charge, claiming that "the law is not clear, the laws are very outdated." However, California Highway Patrol Officer Marc Hale countered that claim by saying that "anything that takes your attention away from the motoring public in front of you is a distraction."

The court now has to decide if simply wearing Google Glass while driving is illegal. The issue of whether actually using Google Glass while driving is legal may not be decided in this case but is sure to land in the courts at some point.