January 17, 2014

Cecilia Abadie - First Person Ever Cited for Driving While Wearing Google Glass Has Her Day in Traffic Court: Case Dismissed


Update: Yesterday we took note that Cecilia Abadie, the first person ever cited in the United States for driving while wearing wearable technology - and more spectacularly, driving while wearing a pair of Google Glass, was to have her day in court. Well, the verdict is in and the judge in the case tossed the case out. Why? Because there was no proof or any way to verify that Glass was actually turned on while Cecilia was driving. Technically speaking, that is a dismissal on a technicality though, and doesn't quite get to the roots of the issues underscored by the original citation -which we've detailed below. There will be more to come on these issues.

Let's start off by saying that we really very much like Cecilia Abadie. In fact we now think of her as a friend. Cecilia is the very smart and delightful CTO of Byte an Atom, a Google Glass shop dedicated to building the world's best Glass-based Sports and Fitness Training Application, and one of the original Google Glass explorers. We know Cecilia because she was a prominent speaker at our recently held Fitness and Sports (FAST) Expo and our Wearable Tech Conference and Expo, both of which were held in Los Angeles in December 2013.

During her three separate drives from Santa Monica to the events she was careful not to have Google Glass all that visible on the road. That said, she certainly wore her pair nonstop during the three days of our conference.

Cecilia also has the rather unique distinction of very likely being the very first person ever cited in the United States for wearing Google Glass while driving. She was pulled over in October 2013 on suspicion of going 80 mph in a 65 mph freeway zone. The California Highway Patrol officer who pulled her over saw she was wearing Google Glass and proceeded to tack on a citation usually given to people driving while a video or TV screen is on in the front of their vehicle.

Cecilia is adamant that she was well within her rights to be wearing her pair of Glass and violated no law. By "doing so" we mean specifically that she was wearing them but that they were not actually turned on while she was driving. Well, Cecilia of course pleaded not guilty (she claims she also wasn't guilty of speeding, but we won't worry about that one) and today her case is finally coming up in a San Diego traffic court.

It surely isn't every day that a traffic court will serve as the stage for possibly shaping a critical law! But today certainly will have some bearings on the future of such devices as Google Glass and possibly other wearable technology, especially the kind that falls under "glasses," and on the future laws that may emerge related to them. Many of us await the verdict with the hope that the judge isn't an 80 year old that has never used a mobile device.

"It's a big responsibility for me and also for the judge who is going to interpret a very old law compared with how fast technology is changing." In the meantime, her attorney William Concidine insists the device was not activated when she was driving. Further, he says there is no way to prove it was.

It is worth noting that to date state legislators in Delaware, New Jersey and West Virginia have introduced bills that would specifically ban driving with Google Glass. In Cecilia's case the police officer adapted a non-Google Glass law in citing her use of Glass. It is also worth noting that Google itself hedges its own bets and has the following advisory posted for all Glass users: "Read up and follow the law. Above all, even when you're following the law, don't hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road."

We wish Cecilia well with the traffic court.

Below is a video of Cecilia demonstrating Byte an Atom's sports app at our December 2013 Wearable Tech Demo Forum event.




Edited by Ryan Sartor



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