Nearly 10 years ago, a law that was passed in California made it illegal for people to use their cellphones to read, write, and send text messages while driving. It was found that over 80% of vehicular crashes and accidents involve distracted driving, and lawmakers wanted to do something to address this issue.1
Since then, cellphone use has drastically increased, and distracted driving continues to be a major problem. Users can snap pictures, browse the internet and play games all on their smartphones. So why is it only illegal to send texts while driving? A new California is expanding the texting while driving law.
No Phones Allowed While Driving
Cellphones have become much more complex since California’s texting while driving law went into effect. Due to this, California lawmakers felt the need to update the language of this texting-and-driving law to reflect how people currently use smartphones.
Assembly Bill 1785 was introduced earlier this year to add a section to the texting and driving law under California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5. California Governor Jerry Brown recently signed the bill into law.
This new legislation makes it illegal for anyone to operate a smartphone or any phone with their hands while driving a vehicle. This means it does not matter if you were sending texts, playing Pokemon Go, or using Tinder – all of these actions are illegal. The law will go into effect January 2017.
When the law goes into effect, drivers in California will be prohibited from holding a phone while behind the wheel. However, there will be some exceptions. The use of a phone or smartphone is allowed if the device is mounted to the vehicle’s dashboard or windshield, and if the driver is activating or deactivating a feature of the phone that requires a single swipe or tap of their finger.
Punishment for Using Your Phone While Driving in California
The punishment for violating this law remains the same as it did for texting while driving. A first offense is punishable by a fine of $20. While this number seems small, being cited for texting while driving will actually cost you a lot more. With additional fees and penalty assessments associated with your violation, you will wind up paying around $165 for breaking this law. Continue reading →