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Do I have a case? Violation of San Antonio's hands free ordinance

Discussion in 'Speeding Tickets, Traffic & Moving Violations' started by RiffRam14, Jun 24, 2016.

  1. RiffRam14

    RiffRam14 Law Topic Starter Guest

    Jurisdiction:
    Texas
    Yesterday while I was stopped at a red light, I used the time to turn on the "turn by turn navigation" gps feature on my phone (apple maps) so that I would not get lost and I could have siri give me directions without having to constantly look at my phone. Police officer saw me looking at my phone at the red light, pulled me over and gave me a ticket for $202. Not entirely convinced I had broken the law, I went home and read the exact city ordinance. Here is the text for the exact hands free ordinance, https://www.sanantonio.gov/portals/0/Files/SAPD/Hands-Free-Ordinance-2015.pdf. The way it is written, it sounds as though you are allowed to turn on a hands free device, which I would consider "turn by turn navigation" a hands free application. (I also think it is interesting that they are fining $202 for this violation, but the ordinance says the fine cannot exceed $200, but I guess the extra $2 is a court fee?). $200 isn't too bad, but I am a broke nursing student and that money could be used toward a text book or something else important. Do I have a case? Is it worth fighting? Thoughts?
     
  2. RiffRam14

    RiffRam14 New Member

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    More information: I will not be able to take a defensive driving class to lower the fine because I already took the class for a speeding ticket I received less than 12 months ago
     
  3. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    The statute is crystal clear - you were not parked you were in a lane of traffic stopped at a light. Use of a portable electronic device is prohibited unless parked.

    Keep the phone out of your hand at all times when in your car and you'll be fine. But for this ticket, I think it's pretty clear that you are guilty.
     
  4. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Well, then pay the fine. I just read the statute and it's abundantly clear that you are guilty of violating it.

    Fortunately, you can still go to traffic school voluntarily, even if it doesn't dismiss the ticket.

    You certainly need a refresher course in obeying your traffic laws.

    This one doesn't go on your record, but the next one might be for something that will and then bye bye any competitive insurance rates that you might have had.

    Keep the damned phone in your pocket or console and NEVER touch it or look at it while driving. Yes, stopping at a light IS driving.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Ask for a DEFERRED ADJUDICATION. If you receive same, you'll be required to stay "traffic citation free" for 60-90 days. If you do so, the court dismisses the citation.

    Easy peasy, DEFERRED ADJUDICATION, call the clerk of court and inquire.
     
    RiffRam14 likes this.
  6. RiffRam14

    RiffRam14 New Member

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    I appreciate your insight, but I'm not sure you understand what I am asking. Yes clearly the ordinance says that being stopped at a red light is considered driving-- Here's a kicker though: a lot of people don't read the exact text for every city ordinance. Most people understand the gist of the law without looking at the exact wording (Are we still responsible for following the law if we misunderstand it? Yes! But you can see how there can be some confusion during specific circumstances). There is a rumor going around San Antonio that you are able to look at your phone at a red light, because most other hands free ordinances around the country have clauses about touching it at a red light or using it for GPS (that's what I thought until I read the exact ordinance). Besides, that wasn't the issue I was asking about (the ordinance is pretty clear on that one), my question was about whether or not the turn by turn navigation could be considered a hands free feature, and thus be considered an exclusion. (FYI most traffic schools don't cover San Antonio's specific hands free ordinance, because it's so specific to San Antonio) If anything, I just need to read all of the city ordinances. I don't use my phone to talk/text/look at the internet while driving-- I only touch it at red lights to turn on GPS if I forgot to do it before I left the house; the ordinance allows for use of cell phone GPS if it is affixed to the car, so that's what I am going to do from now on. All other comments on this forum have been helpful though, it seems pretty unanimous that I don't fit the criteria for an exclusion. My plan is to learn from this experience, get a hands free mount for my phone, and look into possible deferred adjudication.
     
  7. Highwayman

    Highwayman Well-Known Member

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    Well it obviously was NOT hands free if the phone was in your hand, no?.

    It also does not matter what any other statute in any other jurisdiction specifies, or how detailed or confusing (to you) the statute in question is. You were clearly in violation of the San Antonio statute.
     
  8. RiffRam14

    RiffRam14 New Member

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    I agree, it does not matter what I think the law says, it matters what it actually says, and I am responsible if I break it. I don't think my confusion about the law is an excuse or a legal defense, my point was more "hey take it easy on me on this forum", I probably should have made that more clear. The majority of the ordinance is pretty clear. The part in particular that I had a question about was part c that reads: "This section does not apply to an operator of a motor vehicle using a hand-held mobile communications device:... that is used with a hands-free mobile communications telephone or other such device. "
    The ordinance earlier defines "Hands Free Mobile Telephone" as "a mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of the mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a call without the use of either hand (or prosthetic device or aid in the case of a physically disabled person) whether or not the use of either hand (or prosthetic device) is necessary to activate or deactivate the mobile telephone" The way that this sounds to me (and everyone please correct me if I am misinterpreting this) is that you are allowed to make a call while driving using a hands free device (such as a head set), and if you are using such a device you are allowed to activate the call, say by hitting the accept button on the phone. My thought was that this might extend to include turn by turn navigation, which after you turn on verbally gives you directions without having to constantly touch or look at your phone or a map. Yes the phone was in my hand, but a Bluetooth headset is still a hands free device even if you are holding it in your hand. My thought was that perhaps since I was touching the phone to turn on (what I would consider to be) a hands free function, that I might have been within the law, just as a person would be if they were hitting the "accept" button on their phone to accept a call through their Bluetooth headset. That was just my thought process, and I appreciate all reasonable insights : )
     
  9. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    You get patted on the head at your Mama's house, not here.

    Here, we give you the raw truth because judge's don't pat you on the head when you get to court.

    That doesn't fly unless your phone was strapped or taped to the side of your head.

    The reason people wear bluetooth headsets is so they don't have to take their eyes off the road to take a phone call.

    And with most modern systems you can push the button on the headset, activate the phone and TELL IT who to call, all without looking down at the phone or touching it.

    Your comparison with bluetooth is not a valid defense.

    Besides, the "definition" in the statute is not what tells you what you can and cannot do so that's not going to help you either.
     
  10. RiffRam14

    RiffRam14 New Member

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    Not looking for a pat on the head, just want to focus on the facts and the text. Hands free doesn't require anything being strapped to your head. The reason I was using turn by turn navigation was so that I wouldn't have to take my hands or eyes off the road to get directions. Yes a lot of modern systems don't require you to touch anything to accept a call, but that isn't a requirement, and it sounds like the ordinance allows for that. My argument doesn't come from the definition alone, it comes from a specific clause, and I would say that their working definition does matter, that's why they included it.
     

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