Pokémon Go: What’s Legal and What Isn’t

It seems like everywhere you go, people are walking around with heads buried in their cell phones. And with the Pokémon Go craze exploding across the globe, kids and adults alike have yet another reason to keep their eyes glued to electronic devices. While doing so is certainly not a crime, getting behind the wheel or walking onto someone else’s property can completely change the game.

Pokémon Go and Driving

As if texting and driving isn’t bad enough, some gamers now admit to playing Pokémon Go while driving. Earlier this week, a man sideswiped a police cruiser in Baltimore. When one of the officers asks if the occupants of the car are OK, the driver explains, “That’s what I get for playing this [dumb] game. Fortunately, no officers were in the vehicle, and the driver was not hurt.

In Florida, it is illegal for a person to operate a motor vehicle while manually typing or entering multiple letters, numbers, symbols, or other characters into a wireless communications device or while sending or reading data on such a device for the purpose of non-voice interpersonal communication. This is punishable as a noncriminal moving infraction. Additionally, Florida courts have increasingly held that people who cause motor vehicle accidents while texting can be liable for punitive damages since this behavior has been found to be so “reckless or wanting in care” that it constitutes a conscious disregard or indifference to life and safety.

What If I’m Injured Playing Pokémon Go on Private Property?

Pokéstops, where players can collect new items, can be found nearly anywhere–including on private property. Venturing onto private property can also cause problems for Pokémon players.  Besides the obvious trespassing charges that a player may be exposed to, if the player is not paying attention, he or she could easily be injured on private property. Being labeled as a trespasser can hinder a person’s right for financial compensation for any injuries. Furthermore, in Florida, we are what’s called a “comparative negligence” state which means that everyone, including the injured party, is responsible for their own negligence. Depending on the circumstances of how the injury happened, if a person is injured while playing Pokémon Go as a result of failing to pay attention, then this, too, could jeopardize a recovery, as much of the liability could potentially lie with the injured party due to their inattention.

Pokémon Go isn’t all bad, especially since it is getting people out of the house to enjoy the great outdoors and meet fellow players. However, Pokémon Go player or not, it is important to always keep our eyes on the road and remain aware of our surroundings.