On July 1, 2008, two new laws impacting the use of cell phones while driving a motor vehicle in California will go into effect.
The laws prohibit all drivers from using a hand-held wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle in California unless they are an adult using a hands-free device.
IINC’s podcast series, IINC Spots, features examples of hands-free cell options available to California drivers. The video can be viewed at www.iincspots.com.
The new laws allow all drivers to use a hand-held wireless telephone only if calling a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department or other emergency services. Also exempted from the new laws are those motorists driving on private property.
The base fine for the first offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. However, according to the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, a first offense increases to $76 and subsequent offenses are $190 with the addition of penalty assessments.
Although a violation conviction will appear on your driving record, the Department of Motor Vehicles will not assign a violation point. Because no point is assigned, there should be no impact on your insurance costs.
There is no grace period on either of these two laws. Therefore, beginning July 1, 2008, if you’re using a handheld wireless phone while driving, you can be pulled over by a law enforcement officer. It is what’s called a “primary” enforcement offense.
If you are under the age of 18 and you’re using a hands-free wireless phone device you cannot be pulled over by a law enforcement officer unless there is another infraction. This is known as a “secondary” enforcement offense.
While state law will continue to allow hands-free cell phone use in a car, drivers are advised to try to limit distractions while driving. Recent studies have suggested that the act of talking on a phone – with or without hands-free devices – could create dangerous driving distractions. The best option is always to avoid cell phone use while driving if at all possible. Additional ResourcesIINC Spots Podcast: "Look Ma, No Hands!"California Department of Motor VehiclesCalifornia Highway PatrolInsurance Institute for Highway Safety