Why Playing Pokemon GO Could Cost You, Big Time

Can’t resist hunting for Pikachu while behind the wheel? You might want to have a spare $150 handy

Last Updated: July 13, 2016 @ 10:32 AM

Are you one of the many that have become obsessed with the game Pokemon GO in the past week? You might want to keep your checkbook handy, at least if you’re playing behind the wheel.

In the interest of public information and safety, TheWrap reached out to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to find out what the penalties of Pokemon GO-ing while driving.

According to a spokesman for the department, it could cost you both financially and physically.

“It is considered an infraction to play Pokemon GO while driving,” Sgt. Robert Hill of the Sheriff’s Department told TheWrap on Wednesday. “Using a wireless telephone while driving has to be done ‘hands free.'”

Along with the cell-phone law, Hill cautioned, people playing Pokemon GO while driving might also run afoul of California’s “basic speed law,” which states that “no person shall drive at a speed greater than reasonable for conditions.”

“The reasonable speed while playing a game is zero,” Hill stated.

So how much will it dent your wallet if The Man catches you on the hunt for Pikachu while behind the wheel? As it turns out, it could really add up — especially if you’re a repeat offender.

“The penalty for the infraction depends on previous driving convictions,” Hill explained. “The first time penalty for cell phone violation is $20 and $50 for each subsequent offense.”

But that’s just a baseline cost, Hill warned.

“With court costs, fees and assessments the penalty can easily rise to over $150,” Hill noted.”The penalty may differ for the unsafe speed section.”

Of course, the larger cost could be to the physical well-being of yourself and others. Which is why the department strongly cautions against playing Pokemon GO behind the wheel.

“The Sheriff’s Department message for playing Pokemon GO while driving is, ‘Don’t,'” Hill said. “You should never participate in any activity while driving that will distract you from operating your vehicle in a safe manner.”

The department doesn’t currently have statistics on how many infractions and accidents might have occurred from GO-ing while driving, as the game is so new. However, Hill added, a momentary lapse of judgment could change things for you forever.

“It only takes a second of inattention to take somebody’s life,” Hill said. “We’ve all heard the comment, ‘I would never do that.’ My response to that is, ‘That is why they are called accidents.'”