loader image

Everything You Need To Know About California’s New Distracted Driving Law

 

 

Beginning July 1, 2021, California drivers found violating the law in a second offense within 3 years by either reading, texting, or calling using a handheld cell phone while driving will be fined and have a point added to their driving record. Here’s a reminder from a couple of statistics that show just how dangerous allowing yourself to be distracted while driving can be.

  • In 2019, distracted driving was a reported factor in 8.5% of fatal motor vehicle crashes. (NHTSA)
  • In the U.S, distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,477 people and injured another 391,000 in 2015. (NHTSA)

 

And here’s how the Vehicle Code delineates this law in California.

 

California Vehicle Code, Section 23123:

(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.

(b) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.

(c) This section does not apply to a person using a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity.

(d) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using a wireless telephone while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.

(e) This section does not apply to a person driving a schoolbus or transit vehicle that is subject to Section 23125.

(f) This section does not apply to a person while driving a motor vehicle on private property.

 

California VC, Section 23123.5:

(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.

(b) This section shall not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in the vehicle.

(c) A handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device may be operated in a manner requiring the use of the driver’s hand while the driver is operating the vehicle only if both of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in the same manner a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) is mounted pursuant to paragraph (12) of subdivision (b) of Section 26708 or is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road.

(2) The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.

(d) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.

(e) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.

(f) For the purposes of this section, “electronic wireless communications device” includes, but is not limited to, a broadband personal communication device, a specialized mobile radio device, a handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access, a pager, or a two-way messaging device.

 

California VC, Section 23124:

This section of California Vehicle Code prohibits the use of communication devices even in hands free mode for drivers under 18.

(a) This section applies to a person under the age of 18 years.

(b) Notwithstanding Sections 23123 and 23123.5, a person described in subdivision (a) shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device, even if equipped with a hands-free device.

(c) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.

(d) A law enforcement officer shall not stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether the driver is violating subdivision (b).

(e) Subdivision (d) does not prohibit a law enforcement officer from stopping a vehicle for a violation of Section 23123 or 23123.5.

(f) This section does not apply to a person using a wireless telephone or a mobile service device for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity.

(g) For the purposes of this section, “electronic wireless communications device” includes, but is not limited to, a broadband personal communication device, specialized mobile radio device, handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access, pager, and two-way messaging device.

 

California VC, Section 23125:

The following section prohibits use of mobile phones for drivers of school buses or transit vehicles.

(a) A person may not drive a schoolbus or transit vehicle, as defined in subdivision (g) of Section 99247 of the Public Utilities Code, while using a wireless telephone.

(b) This section does not apply to a driver using a wireless telephone for work-related purposes, or for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency service agency or entity.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a violation of subdivision (a) does not constitute a serious traffic violation within the meaning of subdivision (i) of Section 15210.

 

The Penalties for Distracted Driving are as follows:

Mobile phone use while driving is considered an infraction with a punishable $20 fine for a first offense, and $50 fine for each subsequent offense. You can expect to pay fines for penalty assessment which can increase your total fine from $60 – $150 as well. It’s just not worth the risk to tend to anything else while operating a motor vehicle, especially when the statistics show this can be a fatal decision. Ticket Dismissers can help you in the event you’ve been cited for this violation but remember to be careful out there, your life is more important than that text message!

Related Posts

Is Driving With Headphones Illegal In California?

  Yes; California laws prohibit the wearing of headphones while driving a motor vehicle and other states have similar laws. It’s actually quite difficult to drive safely with only your eyes on the road and the use of headphones contributes to distracted driving...

read more

Covid-19 Responsible for Rise in Speeding

    It sounds incredible to think that Covid-19 could have an influence on the habits of the driving population but statistics have shown a significant rise in speeding on the roadways where traffic had actually cleared due to the pandemic. Evidently, that...

read more

Free Case Analysis

The best way to get guidance on your specific legal issue is to contact Ticket Dismissers. For a free accurate case analysis, please call 818-213-5130 or complete our contact form.

14 + 6 =