Still confused about the hands-free law in California? Here's the basics that you need to know, and what defenses you may have if you are cited for using your cell phone.
What are the new laws?
- California Vehicle Code 23123 prohibits drivers in California from talking on a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device (such as a bluetooth).
- Section 23123.5 prohibits drivers using a cell phone to text message or send emails while driving.
What are the exceptions?
- Section 23124 prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using a cell phone while driving, hands-free or not, talking or texting.
This law does allow drivers (of any age) to use their cell phone traditionally for emergency calls (police, fire, or medical). This law does not apply to drivers talking on their cell or texting while on private property. According to the DMV's website, "This law does not prohibit reading, selecting or entering a phone number, or name in an electronic wireless device for the purpose of making or receiving a phone call. Drivers are strongly urged not to enter a phone number while driving.
If I get a ticket, does it affect my driving record?
The conviction will appear on your driving record, but not as a point. Most insurance companies base their rates off of how many points are on your record.
How much do cell phone tickets cost?
The first violation adds up to around $150. The fines go up for every cell phone violation to get after the first one.
What about minors?
Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using their cell phones while driving, whether traditionally, or with a hands-free device, unless they are calling emergency services or medical personnel. The DMV says, "For drivers under the age of 18, this is considered a SECONDARY violation meaning that a law enforcement officer may cite you for using a "hands-free" wireless device if you are pulled over for another violation. However, the prohibition against using a handheld wireless device (most electronic devices) while driving is a PRIMARY violation for which a law enforcement officer can pull you over."
Bottom line: if you're on private property talking on your cell or sending a text, you won't get a ticket, but drive safely. You can use your phone anywhere to dial or look up your contacts. If you're a minor, put your phone away (no bluetooth for you). If you get a cell phone or texting ticket, fight it. There are loopholes in the law. Our team at TicketKick specializes in cell phone and texting tickets for a flat fee of $99, with a money back guarantee to help you get a ticket dismissal.