Wearable technology has begun trending and has taken over as the new must have item. Amongst these new products, Google Glass is especially exciting for consumers as it functions as a head mounted Android computer. Don’t be fooled by its appearance, Google Glass may look like a pair of glasses; however, this gadget is equipped with a optical head mounted display and voice recognition technology that enables the user to take photos, use Google, lookup directions, etc without ever looking down at their smartphone or even using their hands.
If you are fortunate enough to already own this product, or if you are planning on purchasing Google Glass in the future, there are some things you should probably consider before opening up your wallet.
Despite the fact that Google Glass is not yet available for sale to the everyday consumer, concerns regarding the products safety have already emerged. During this past October, a driver was ticketed in California for wearing her Google Glasses while operating a motor vehicle. According to California’s Vehicle Code, drivers are forbidden to operate their vehicle while distracted by a video device. More specifically, California implements a Television Screen and Monitor Law that deems in unlawful for a person to drive a motor vehicle in which there is a television receiver or video monitor visible to the driver while they are driving. Based on these laws, it certainly seems appropriate that this driver was ticketed for wearing her Google Glasses while driving.
If you live in Michigan and are considering purchasing Google Glass in the future, you may now be wondering if you too will be ticketed for using Google Glass while driving.
As most Michiganders are now well aware, Michigan State Law has deemed texting while driving to be a civil infraction. “Reading, typing, or sending text messages on a wireless 2-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or…lap… while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highways or street” in Michigan is prohibited. On the first offense, drivers caught texting and driving are fined $100; however, all subsequent offenses result in a $200 fine. Wireless 2 way devices that are affixed to the motor vehicle and are utilized strictly for global positioning and/or navigation are, however, permitted for use in the state of Michigan. Based on this law, it would seem that Michigan drivers would still be permitted to drive while wearing Google Glass. Reading or composing a text is clearly prohibited, but Google Glass has many functions outside of texting. Additionally, Google Glass doesn’t involve hand use, nor would it ever be utilized while in a person’s lap. While it seems as though drivers would be protected under this law, there is a less known law in Michigan that reveals that that is not the case.
According to another section of Michigan’s Vehicle Code, “ A person shall not operate a motor vehicle… with a television or other similar electronic device that displays a video image that can be viewed by the operator while the motor vehicle is in motion”. This law does not apply to vehicle or navigation systems that are built into the vehicle’s dashboard and are used strictly for displaying vehicle information, location, directions and/or weather/traffic conditions. In other words, television/electronic devises that are used solely for these aforementioned purposes are permitted for use while driving, but electronic devises with additional features/capabilities cannot be in a person’s visual plane while operating a motor vehicle.
For those wondering whether or not they should wear their Google Glasses while driving in Michigan, I think it is evident that the answer is no. Google Glass is an electronic device that displays a video image directly before the eyes of the person using them. While Google Glass can function as a navigation system, this gadget has many additional capabilities that are not permitted by Michigan’s Vehicle Code. Based upon these findings, Michiganders should not feel entitled to operate their motor vehicles while wearing their Google Glasses. If you are pulled over while wearing Google Glass, you will probably receive a civil infraction and be subject to a fine of $100 on the first offense, and $200 any time there after.
Remember, distracted driving is the leading factor in most crashes! Drivers should avoid all non-driving activities that direct their attention away from the road. Any distraction that leads you to take your eyes off of the road, hands off the wheel, or mind off of driving must be avoided. If you are in a traffic accident and it is determined that distracted driving was the cause of the accident, you may be charged with careless driving. In Michigan, drivers charged with careless driving can have 3 points added to their driving records. If you are considering taking your chances and driving while using Google Glass or any other distracting device, think again! A $100 to $200 fine may not be enough to dissuade you, but if for some reason you wind up being charged with careless driving, the added points on your driving record will end up costing you much more.
Hope you all had a safe and relaxing holiday! Yesterday, Nick assisted a client by expunging a 12 year old criminal conviction. A great start to the new year!
Criminal charges dismissed this afternoon = one happy client walking out the courthouse doors with me.
As more and more states jump on the bandwagon legalizing marijuana and/or medical marijuana use, legislators are now addressing a new concern, an increase in driving while impaired by marijuana.
While Arizona implements a zero tolerance policy, making any level of marijuana in the blood illegal, Colorado’s law offers more flexibility.
Colorado has recently passed new legislation that places the legal threshold for marijuana at 5 nanograms per milliliter. Under this law, defendants are permitted to present evidence proving that they were not too impaired to drive despite a THC level exceeding the statutory threshold.
While proponents of the law emphasize the importance of this standard when legally prosecuting cases involving marijuana impaired driving, many feel that the threshold is to low.
With the legal limit for alcohol being .08, it logically follows that a similar limit should exist for marijuana. That being said, even the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acknowledges that detecting impairment caused by marijuana is not as simple as it is with alcohol. The NHTSA is currently studying the effects that marijuana consumption has on drivers; they are expected to return their results by the end of 2014.
In the meantime, a news station in Washington has conducted an interesting experiment to measure marijuana’s effect on driving.
KIRO 7 News constructed a driving course outfitted with a marijuana-smoking lab, police officials, and driving instructor.
Three volunteers were required to smoke 3/8ths of a gram of marijuana and then instructed to complete a driving course. Accompanying the volunteers, an instructor observed the volunteers’ driving ability and reported whether they were safe enough to be on the road.
In all three cases, drivers were reported as driving fine when their blood level of THC well exceeded Colorado’s legal threshold of 5 nanograms. One participant for example, was reported as driving fine behind the wheel when their blood content was 26 nanograms (that’s 5 times the legal threshold). This being said, as the volunteers’ consumed more and more marijuana they did eventually become too impaired to safely drive on the road.
While there is much research to be done on the subject, it seems evident that the future holds much contention among legislators regarding marijuana’s driving threshold.