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Cell Phone Laws in California

Don’t get distracted

A National Highway Transportation Safety Administration report states that: In 2008, 5,870 people lost their lives and an estimated 515,000 people were injured in police-reported crashes in which at least one form of driver distraction was reported on the crash report.

Safe Cell Phone Use

California laws prohibit all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle,(Vehicle Code (VC) §23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a “hands-free device.” Drivers under the age of 18 may NOT use a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC §23124).

California Cell Phone Law

Effective July 1, 2008, there is NO grace period when California motorists will only get a warning. These hands-free or cell phone usage laws apply to out-of-state drivers and is only applicable to the person driving a motor vehicle.

A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction. The base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. With the addition of penalty assessments, the fines can be more than triple the base fine amount. The violation is a reportable offense and a conviction will appear on your driving record, however, DMV will not assign a violation point.

The law allows a driver to use a wireless telephone to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency.

Cell Phone Safety Tips:

  • Learn to use the redial, speed dial or voice dial features.
  • Keep your phone within easy reach.
  • You can use the speaker phone if you do not have a “hands-free device”.
  • Don’t use your cell phone while driving in bad weather.
  • Select safe times to dial, for example, when stopped at a light or in a parking lot.

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