This new Cell Phone Law prohibits cell phone usage while driving unless it is for emergency purposes. Motorists operating a vehicle are required to use a hands-free headset like a Bluetooth headset. Drivers who breach this law within California will be fined for $20 for the first offense and $50 for each offense after that. This new Cell Phone Law is being implemented due to the number of increase of auto accidents occurring in California caused from cell phone usage while driving.
There are two new Cell Phone Laws handling the issue of using wireless telephones while driving will go into effect starting July 1, 2008.
The two new laws both enforce the usage of using cell phones while driving, but are different in the ways it is handled. The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone, a cell phone, while operating a motor vehicle (Vehicle Code (VC) §23123). The second law states Motorists 18 and over may use a “hands-free device” while driving. Drivers under the age of 18 may NOT use a wireless telephone or a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).
The two new laws apply to the person driving a motor vehicle and also to out-of-state drivers who are driving within California even if their home states do not have such laws. A person of the law enforcement can pull anyone over any time for using a handheld wireless telephone unless the driver is using a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth headset or cell phone headset. Motorists are allowed to dial on a wireless telephone, but for safety, it is strongly urged not to dial while driving. Motorists are also allowed to use the speaker phone function of wireless telephones while driving, but the push-to talk feature is prohibited to be in usage while operating a vehicle.
The first offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. However, fines can be more than triple the base fine amount with the addition of penalty assessments. The DMV will not assign a violation point, but the violation is a reportable offense and will not be added to the driving record; though the conviction will appear on the driving record. There is no grace period when motorists will only receive a warning. Whether a citation is issued or not is always at the discretion of the officer based upon her or his determination of the most appropriate remedy for the situation.
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