Cecilia Abadie

Getting out of a ticket on a technicality doesn't do much to solve the larger legislative issues

Cecilia Abadie, the 44-year-old California woman who gained a bit of notoriety after she received a traffic ticket last year for wearing Google Glass as she was stopped for speeding, has had her day in court. And in the end she avoided a ticket (that presumably would have cost far less than the $1,500 glasses on her face) because while even though Glass falls under that particular California statue (as we predicted), the police would have had to prove that Glass was actually "turned on," according to the L.A. Times. It's not clear whether than means that the display is on, or the device is powered on but in standby, or what. It wasn't proven — even if it violated the law — so no ticket.

And for what it's worth, Abadie also avoided the citation for speeding, due to a lack of evidence. That's hardly uncommon in traffic court. 

But as the lawyer representing Abadie said in a news conference, none of this addresses the real issue.

Google Glass

Abadie herself recorded the news conference (through Glass, of course). Phandroid was there as well and shot things from the more traditional angle. And right off the bat, Abadie's lawyer spells it out. There's a difference between getting out of a traffic ticket on a technicality, and the larger issue of using face-mounted wearables in vehicles. And the latter wasn't settled here.

I think what we have here is it shows that even if you’re wearing Glass … it still must be established that you actually were using Google Glass. It’s like using a cell phone, or a texting violation — it must be shown that you were actually violating the law.

Unfortunately we didn’t get into the larger issues of whether driving with Google Glass operating on your face is considered legal or not.

Again, the traffic judge did rule that Glass was in violation of the statute that governs displays visible to drivers. The problem, Abadie's lawyer reminds us, is that Glass doesn't quite fit into that statute, and it certainly wasn't written with Glass in mind. 

That's the rub. From Abadie's lawyer:

Every judge can interpret this statue a little differently. … The language of the statute is very expansive, it is open to interpretation. So I think that if you were to run the same facts through different judges, we’re going to get different conclusions from each and every one. They can rely on different things about the statues to either find someone in violation or, in fact, to find them innocent of that charge.

So I think the next step comes down to what’s the legislator going to say about this, as more Google Glass become readily available to the general public. And are they going to take an additional step and write new laws specifically relating to Google Glass, or allow judges to personally interpret then on a case-by-case basis? I personally think it’s too open to interpretation.

Google Glass

Google, for its part, addresses all this from the first moment you take Glass out of the box (as well as on its website), referring Explorers (that's those of us with Glass) to the laws of each particular state and reminding us that tech nor no tech, be careful out there.

As you probably know, most states have passed laws limiting the use of mobile devices while driving any motor vehicle, and most states post those rules on their department of motor vehicles websites. 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. The same goes for bicycling: whether or not any laws limit your use of Glass, always be careful.

We're still in the infancy of all this. We're still exploring. Use Glass behind the wheel if you want. Or don't. We've got plenty of opinions on both sides. But follow the law of the land you live in, or be prepared to explain why you didn't. And until the legislation catches up with the technology — and you can guess which one of those things moves quicker — expect more clashes to occur. 


Reader comments

Legality of using Google Glass while driving still murky, even after woman avoids ticket


Just take the thing off while driving. Last thing I want is for some dummy to run over my kid while trying to figure out how to use the record feature.

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What if you prescription glasses attached to your google glass?
Just playing Devils advocate here, but I agree some sort of law needs to put in place, and hopefully before glass is widely sold. Its actual very similar to the whole texting and driving thing because it took nearly a decade for the government to do anything about it because they didnt know how to address it. Lets hope they can tackle this effectively and a bit faster than that.

That kind of defeats the entire purpose of convenience dont u think? Most people only have a single pair of glasses or at least most people Ik. So having to buy a separate pair just to drive with is not really feasible.

"having to buy a separate pair just to drive with is not really feasible."

And the award for dumbest thing said on AC today has been claimed!

If you have Google Glass, much less a prescription pair, you can afford a second pair of glasses to not wear when you are driving, going into a public restroom, in a locker room, etc.
If you don't, well, too fucking bad, you're clearly too stupid and irresponsible to be allowed to drive.

Dude, really? We're not talking about *now*, but when these things start hitting the general public. With a set of prescription glasses being close to $300 (the normal kind) I can imagine people not having a second pair. A lot of people, especially if they just paid $300-500 for a pair of Google Glass *isn't* going to be able to afford a separate pair of prescription glasses.

And who knows what Google Glass is going to end up looking like when it finally makes its way out to the general public. And name calling is not really necessary, even when you can't see the other person's point of view.

Exactly. Google Glass is the defintion of a discretionary purchase. If you're unable to afford a second pair of prescription glasses because you spent too much money on Google Glass, you should sell the Glass and use the cash to take a course on managing your money.

If you can afford glass then you can afford another pair. She looks like a tool with them on

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I really want to know if that's how she dressed to go to court? She looks like she just rolled out of bed.

A few things.

1. "OK glass... Record a video" is the command to record video. All the there commands are that basic. Nothing to figure out.

2. Do you feel the same way about cell phones, eating, putting on makeup, messing with the radio, dealing with children in the vehicle, etc etc etc? All of which are a much more common and every day occurrence on the roadways? Or are you just against Google Glass wearing, not necessarily use, while driving?

3. If you have no issue with any of the aforementioned, why not? They pose a far greater risk than someone who just happens to be wearing Glass (and not actually using it).

You can be ticketed for all of those things if they result in you driving poorly. Messing with your smartphone while driving is explicitly banned in many states.

"They pose a far greater risk than someone who just happens to be wearing Glass (and not actually using it)."
And herein lies the issue. You can't tell if someone is doing something with Glass. The only way you can know that they aren't, is if they take it off.

That's right you can. However, my comment was not directed at you and it was very explicit in what was asked and stated.

No offense/not trying to be rude.

I'm merely asking the OP if he feels the same about those other things.

With that logic, you must turn your phone off, turn off and cover your nav system in your car, turn off the stereo, advise your passengers that while you are driving they must not speak. You know, just to be sure that these things are not distracting you.

Once you have worn Glass for about a week it not any more or less distracting than anything else in your environment. It comes down to personal responsibility.

Finally, as you stated, there are already laws that address irresponsible driving. We don't need more laws that specifically call out specific items. It seems this is done to just fill the lawyers bank accounts.

2. Yes. I do. There are enough distractions for cagers that Glass doesn't need to add to them.

I HIGHLY doubt that her GGlass was turned off and in my humble opinion ... she and any other idiot who operate motor vehicles whiling doing things that they really do not need to do .. deserve nothing less then a really hard crotchpunch.

Some might not agree and that's fine but it might stem the utterance of " that motorcycle came out of nowhere. " Because yeah .. bikes might be sleek but WE don't have transport abilities nor do we hop through dimensions to ride past you. I see bikes just fine in my rear/side view when I have to drive my truck.

So yeah ...

So you are saying that you have never messed with the radio, made/answered a phone call, ate something, took a drink of something or done anything else that distracted you even for a second from driving?
If you say no well then you are just flat out lying. If you actually admit to it well then it sounds like you deserve "a really hard crotchpunch"

Whether people have changed a radio or not doesn't matter. The point is that anything that distracts you from the road is not safe and most people do not realize how deadly motor vehicles are.

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I had a CarPC in my xB for 2 years and never got into an accident, driving 30k miles....I think that would qualify me to use Google Glass, cuz a CarPC /has/ to be more distracting. ;-P

Posted via my Shnexus 5

I can DO all of those without looking at them. I've had a bluetooth since they were as new as Glass is. And quite frankly looking at a screen reading email, texting and all that .. no. I don't. So yeah. Thanks. You know me. So you know what I do. You know how many petitions I signed over and over again to get Sacramento to make this kind of thing illegal. Yeah.

I never said I never did ANYTHING at all that didn't distract me from driving. But you know me .. all personally and stuff. I feel SO loved.

MF'er you do not know me. You do not know what I think or what I do. You know NOTHING. So yeah. My opinion of what I do WHEN I drive my 4 wheel vehicle has been informed by 25 years of riding 2 wheel vehicles .. so yeah... I'm pretty friggin adamant about not doing 99% of what you could come up with as far as what would distract me from keeping my eyes on the road. Notice .. I said nothing about hands because the few things you mention don't require eyeballing. So yeah.

My opinion stands ... ya fool.

To be fair here, you don't know this woman either. The comment you're replying to with so much vitriol didn't say that you were texting while driving or something, but (as I read it) just said that we *all* have things from time-to-time that distract us from the road. Even the act of talking on a hands-free device can impair reaction time.

At some point, we have to implement a level of trust in each other (because, frankly, being against the law doesn't stop people from doing things) and we have to establish a level of serious personal accountability for people who do break the law.

Used properly, Google glass is no more of a distraction than a GPS unit. And, arguably, much better since it wouldn't require you to actually take your eyes off the road.

Look at it this way: as I said before, illegal or not, people are going to text and drive. I agree that we need to better educate people on just how *massively* dangerous this is, but as it stands now people do it. At *least* with Google Glass, those of us who know better will still wait until we're stopped, but those who would do it anyway will have a simple way to use voice commands with a device that doesn't require them to look down.

It's easy to say "let's make it illegal so no one will do it" but reality never works that way. All too often, in the real world, you have to choose the lesser of two evils.

I concede. We can't ever do anything about anything since humanity sucks and we have a constitutional right to be jerks.


Frankly, I'm sick of this argument that "Google Glass does not require one to take their eyes off of the road". It's a fallacy...strike that; it's simply a lie.

Try this - hold your index finger an inch away from you eye (right or left, you choose). Now, focus on your fingerprint. While maintaining that focus, read any portion of this webpage. Spoiler alert...it's impossible.

Yes, everything is a distraction. Getting 6 hours of sleep versus seven impairs ability. Not eating a good enough breakfast probably impairs ability. But those are weak excuses...not arguments, excuses. If legislators can do something to make roads safer, they have an obligation to do so. Driving is a privilege, not a right. You don't like it? That's why we have buses.

And the argument that "everyone breaks the law anyways, so let's just forget the laws" is equally weak. It's usually trotted out in favour of marijuana legalization...to see it used here is equally sad. The simple response to this argument is all laws are broken by somebody. Laws against murder don't stop it from happening...should we discard the laws?

The way we write laws is to deal with infractions on a reactionary basis...we give the benefit of the doubt, safe in the knowledge that we can punish offenders when they step out of line. We are not proactive. The people who pay for this approach are the victims. The guy in a wheelchair hit by a texting driver takes no comfort in the fact that the person who destroyed his life got a fine.

There is no need for Google Glass behind the wheel. None. You may say that the GPS is nice...probably is. But that doesn't have to be worn on the face, and in any event, people have driven for decades without GPS. Use of Google Glass behind the wheel, like other distractions, should carry significant penalties. We shouldn't wait for people to be hurt.

That's interesting. So by your own words above, you deserve a serious punch to the crotch. You do exactly what you think others shouldn't do.

And sorry, but your opinion doesn't stand. At least not when it's YOUR OPINION and not something based solely on facts and evidence.

Its safer than taking your eyes off the road to look at the navi. Its right in front of you and glass is part transparent. You can see behind it.

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Ever notice that Heads Up Displays don't have complex or even IMPORTANT information? Ever notice GPS is a big honking display with an audible readout?

Interaction is the killer...not just display. The problem with Glass isn't that it's Glass...it's that there is a lot of potential to try to do too much at the wrong time.

I also personally have no idea what the focus distance is for Glass. If it's closer than the steering wheel it's inherently dangerous because our eyes can't see both inched and infinity simultaneously.

And yes there are too many legal distractions too. We're expected to be smart enough to know when to use them but alas we aren't.

I also ride two wheels and distracted cagers are the biggest safety issue I have while riding.

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She didn't say Glass was 'off' she said the display was off. Which is the state of the device 90% of the time. Heck, even when you get a text message the display doesn't automatically come on.

The biggest problem I see is that many people have formed opinions about Glass without actually using them.

I agree most bikes are easy to see. However, I remember seeing one guy in a recumbent(sp?) bike at a very business intersection near freeway. His head was well below the window line of even the lowest sports car. I don't think I would ride that bike there.

Yes, I fully believe that they all fall under a distracted driving category and should be enforced as such. I think the defense of "you have to prove it was turned on at the time" is bull and they should just not allow drivers to wear things that could impede there vision. If it is turned off, then take then off your face.

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Here you can technically be fined for *anything* that impedes vision. For example not de-fogging the windscreen properly. Even having fluffy dice hanging off the mirror (although that one would be rare). Having a piece of distracting technology in your eye would definitely be covered.

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It doesn't impede your vision. It sits at about the height of a window visor..while it is up; approximately in line with the review mirror.

Just how is it more distracting than changing the radio, closing a window, or a bird flying? If its off, it won't distract you. You might as well say having a phone on your dashboard is distracting. Its only distracting if its on.

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I have a dashmount for my phone. I run a dash camera app (DailyRoadsVoyager). I frequently have a podcast or music playing to the stereo. And I often have a speedometer or GMaps open, just like a GPS unit, if I'm lost or driving around in rush-hour. I've found that GMaps can sometimes be helpful to know that traffic is slowing ahead, so I don't discover it when I come over the hill at 70mph.

That said, those things don't pose a risk of distraction when used properly. As I said, the GMaps can be beneficial in heavy traffic. As can the speedometer, since it means I don't have to look down to see my speed. There are plenty of uses where Google Glass could potentially make you a *safer* driver.

Imagine an app that, when you turn on your blinker or put the car in reverse, shows you a feed from a camera so that you have no blind spot. Many cars are coming with backup cameras built into the dash or rear-view mirror, but you still can't watch these screens all the time.

Imagine if there was some kind of proximity sensor that could flash an arrow or something on glass warning you that the guy next to you was veering into your lane.

These are, obviously, ideas for future tech but my point is not to be too ready to "kill" the idea just because you see a *potential* problem with it. There are *always* going to be people who abuse technology and don't pay as much attention as they should while they're driving. It's unfortunate, but it's the truth. Event without Glass or cellphones, you will have people who are off in lala land.

Let's talk about how we can make using technology safer, rather than discussing how we stop *everyone* from using it because some people *might* (will) misuse it. Because the truth is, even if you made it illegal, those people who would misuse it are still going to do it, so you still end up with a negative net outcome.

Because even being "able to see thru it" doesn't matter. Your eyeball can only focus on one thing at a time(the glass display) or the road. Can't people understand that. These will be totally illegal to wear in a moving vehicle in the near future. This is easy for me to see. Anybody else?

Using glass as navigation would be better than in built nav systems which do require the user to look away from the road.

Google need a way of blocking access to everything bar navigation when driving and if they want to go one further, disable screen when driving so just audio.

She could have taken it off for the news conference. Why draw attention to it? Anyone standing on her right side will now be saying, "Yeah, it does look like to could obstruct your peripheral vision".

My prescription glasses obstruct my peripheral vision more than Glass does; should I not wear my glasses while I drive?

From what I have seen, wearing Glass is more distracting than a DVD player peripherally visible to the driver but that's being watched by a passenger.

I disagree. Unlike the DVD player that's actively playing the entire time, Glass is displaying NOTHING unless you're interacting with it. You have to tilt up your head to activate it and then interact with it. Otherwise it's blank.

Cops will never know that it is on or not, so I can see these being illegal to even wear in the car in the future. Especially in my crazy state of NJ!

Here are things I have realized, you can ignore them... If you don't look at it, it won't look at you.

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What there trying to say is don't drive like a dumb ass with Glass or it will be illegal before its officially released

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I've never knew it was that ready to get out of a speeding ticket. I just been paying those all these years.

This settled out pretty much how I expected.

Traffic violation (speeding): charges either laid or dropped, depending on evidence. Not related to the use of Glass, just like it would be if she had a smartphone in her hand. Speeding violation is separate from the use of handheld devices, and although both would fall under traffic violations, they are separate charges.

Traffic violation (use of Glass while driving): I wasn't expecting this to stand, I kinda figured this one would get dropped on some technicality or other, simply because when the laws were passed, dumbphones had been around quite a while, and smartphones were just hitting the big time.

I think it goes without saying that a lot of people - from gadget geeks like us to lawyers and law-makers of all kinds - will follow this and any other similar story with very keen interest.

Wearables are coming as I've said before. Right now they're in their infancy, which means laws are in place that were written before wearables were even a thing. Technology changes at a extremely rapid pace and laws will always struggle to keep up

Agreed but it is California. All the managers where I work dress like that everyday (they're from Cali). Seems they don't wear dress clothes.

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I live in Boulder, which is about as hippy dippy laid back as it gets and even the bums look better when they go to court here.

You assholes are so damn judgmental.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Nexus 5, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

I know, right? IMO it's worse than the so-called "Glassholes" they're trying to make fun of.

Posted from my pure Google Nexus 4 using the AC app.

I am gonna have to reserve judgement on the whole issue until I get my hands on a pair...

Of the top of my head though, I don't think it is a really good idea to drive and glass.

It's better than looking at your phone which usually (w dumb cases) takes away whole vision. So, unless they prohibit all electronic devices in vehicles, banning Google Glass is hideous.
Those afraid that someone is gonna get killed while recording is being figured , should know that many more are confused with their pre-installed features in their new cars, which are becoming more like entertainment and telecommunication cabins. Or those who just got lost in the city and desperately trying to figure out their navigation starring at it.
Distractions are all around the driver and this the last to be concerned about because it doesn't take away as much of the vision w a quick glance - as it should be done looking over just anything in the car. Still, other soon available glasses would be more driver friendly for sure.
Also, Google should make sure that Driving mode is available which would limit features on the screen and with those logs provided to authorities when requested , have a driver protected.
Thinking of that, maybe all phone OEMs should be forced to make something like Motorola did with it's Assist App and context. aware chip and have txt msgs read and sent by voice all the time and go further limiting , locking phones only to calls, txt (w voice) and Nav while in that "driving mode".
Then, you would have to do the same w car manufacturers too.
Maybe we'll see it in 20 30 yrs from now.

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There's one small problem with your idea about "enforcing" a driving mode in the software: what happens when you're the passenger in someone's car? Or riding the bus? Or the subway? See what I mean?

Just click on "I'm not driving" as I do on my Moto X.
If someone does that while actually driving, then he/she is fully responsible for whatever happens in traffic incident - just like w intoxication.

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I can definitely see how Google Glass could be a distraction while driving, just like smartphones. However, I recently drove a new Cadillac, and let me tell you, the touch controls on the dashboard & center consol for radio and HVAC are WAY more distracting and dangerous to use while driving than my smartphone.

Technology and driving are going to have a tumultuous relationship all the way up until self-driving vehicles go mainstream. Or until everyone manages to gain some common sense.

"Technology and driving are going to have a tumultuous relationship all the way up until self-driving vehicles go mainstream. Or until everyone manages to gain some common sense."

I'll let you guess which one of these things will happen first.

Self driving cars are expected to hit the roads before 2018-2020, as for common sense? Don't expect to see that in America. I have been to many many countries and America lacks any sort of logic.

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I have seen many users and you lack any sort of logic.

Posted from my pure Google Nexus 4 using the AC app.


Posted from my "Gift from God" Nexus 5, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Three states in the US already have regulations and guidelines for autonomous vehicles on the roads; not out of a intent of banning them, but rather to give those that are building them some direction to move. Nevada, Colorado and Michigan.

Self driving cars are expected to hit the roads before 2018-2020, as for common sense? Don't expect to see that in America. I have been to many many countries and America lacks any sort of logic.

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Self Driving cars are not gonna go mainstream in our lifetime. Just can't see it. They can make them all they want, but people aren't gonna buy them until I am long dead. I think maybe 30+ years from now. What do you guys think? Flame me if you want, but this kind of tech is gonna take decades for people to adopt/accept/trust.

Another America-hating idiot.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Nexus 5, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

I have yet to experience Glass in person - but I think that this technology is less of a distraction, than say a TomTom GPS on the dashboard. I don't agree with using the device for messaging whilst driving unless the messages are read out to you and not shown. People have got HUDs in their top-end BMWs which are just fixed versions of what Glass could be and they are not banned - go figure!

Oh, come on! Why would you have that crap on your face if it's not turned on?

People need to realize, when you are in your car, you can KILL other people. Turn off your gadgets. Focus on driving and being safe.

This is a really good advertising campaign google.
Smashed it.

“I care not what puppet is placed on the throne of England to rule the Empire, …The man that controls Britain’s money supply controls the British Empire.

I'm not sure the technicality is as irrelevant as it's being made out to be. IMO, it's the core point of the issue: if there's no evidence that the device was turned on, there's no case against it. Merely saying she had a screen in front of her changes nothing.

I do think, arguably, that an actively running Glass display would be reasonable to consider as much of a distraction as a cell phone. So the legality with Glass, IMO, is that it's unreasonable to expect the person to take them off while driving. They would have to prove they're in use to fine her, and there's no evidence they were in use.

I agree. I use Glass for navigation and it works wonderfully. Certainly less distracting than the dedicated GPS device that I have.

They are less than 1/2" width and there are no lenses for them to descend past half-way. I don't think this section actually applies.

I agree, the nav capability is much better than the indash or cell phone nav.

You are such a fuckin tool

Posted from my "Gift from God" Nexus 5, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Awww, that's cute. The school bus leaves in a few hours.

Posted from my "Gift from God" Nexus 5, my "God-Given" iPad Mini 2, or my "Risen" Samsung Chromebook.

Put the glass to the test and see if it's dangerous to drive with on. I think it's more safe then a car radio.

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I can't see it being any different from the HUD systems GM puts in their cars.

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I rented a Camaro w/ the HUD on the windshield. For about the first 30 mins I was thinking that this is nutz, I can't stop looking at it and I'm going to get into an accident. Then the novelty wore off and it was pretty handy.

Same thing applies to any of the stuff in the car; initially it can be distracting, but once you are used to how it works and where it is at, it works really well.

Add another to the "This is much less distracting than a GPS or even phone mounted while running maps" camp. And I'm currently able to text using my windshield mounted phone, which would pass for a GPS any day of the week, although I don't. Damning something because it can be used for nefarious purposes is different than damning something whose intended primary use is nefarious purposes.

The laws all have exceptions for GPS/maps use. The same should apply to Glass. I don't know that you should be allowed to do other stuff with Glass while driving. How are cops going to know if you are within the exception? Doubt they can. Cops will probably pull over anyone wearing Glass and let them try to defend themselves in court.

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Hopefully, if she crashes while distracted, she hits a tree and only kills herself and takes no innocent lives. But life doesn't work that way. She'll probably run over an innocent pedestrian or bike rider and get a light sentence.

Do you have a GPS? I guess the same should happen to you, since they're worse distractions.

Posted from my pure Google Nexus 4 using the AC app.

It's common sense to just not wear anything on your person, or apply anything to your car that would hinder your vision and ability to operate a motor vehicle safely.
Now this hag is free to continue acting and looking like a complete douche and putting everyone else in danger, this idiot thinks that just a bit of vision sacrifice is ok - well it's not. I hope she gets a punch in the face and therefore will be wearing google glass permanently, she deserves it. In fact everyone who intends to wear google glass in public does.

I bet your a riot at parties. You've never worn Glass so you don't know if it hinders your vision, but you've decided to punch people in the face? Recommend anger counseling.

Don’t you just love America, the land were we throw common sense out the window and we all scream, “It’s a free country”, and wait for the body count to hit a magic number before the people demand that the Government step in and put a law in place to restrict the freedom of using that certain things that seems to be killing people.
“Cell Phones”
“Google Glass”, Oh wait we still have not reached the magic number of people killed yet
So it all good keep using it until we hit the right body count.

Lol, you really think drunk driving is legal in the US? You should learn common sense yourself before making such idiotic comments.

Posted from my pure Google Nexus 4 using the AC app.

So.. She got away from the wearing Glass ticket.. How about the speeding ticket? Is she still getting the ultimate punishment for it? Will she be thrown into the shark pool while wearing a eye mask and Glass on top the eye mask?

In conclusion:

Abadie's ambulance chaser attorney is a blowhard who loves the sound of his own voice.

Throw the book at her! While driving, you shouldn't be doing anything else BUT driving and paying attention to the road. PERIOD!