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California Court Throws Out Google Glass Traffic Citation

Publication Date: 
January 17, 2014
The Seattle Times
Julie Watson

Rock Center fellow Vivek Wadhwa comments on the countless possible legal issues that will arise as new technologies change the nature of driving for The Seattle Times. 

A San Diego traffic court threw out a citation Thursday against a woman believed to be the first motorist in the country ticketed for driving while wearing a Google Glass computer-in-eyeglass device.

Commissioner John Blair ruled that Cecilia Abadie was not guilty because she had been cited under a code that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the device was in operation, which the officer did not provide.


Legal experts say the ruling does not set a precedent but marks the beginning of a number of cases they expect courts to confront as lawmakers struggle to keep pace with technology. “The fun is just starting,” said Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford Law School.

From driverless cars to wearable devices that can enhance human functions, Wadhwa said, there are a variety of legal questions to be answered. For example, when a Google-operated car is on the road and hits someone, who is responsible: the passenger, car manufacturer or software developer?