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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 which lessens your ability to hear emergency vehicles traveling at high speeds. While most distracted driving laws focus on the use of cell phones, penalties for this citation can extend to any device, and a ticket by an officer could cost you $197.


If you broke the law while driving with headphones, that citation could become a dangerous driving charge which carries a stiffer fine and possibly 30 days jail time. Let’s say you’re wearing headphones and you become involved in an accident, now you stand the risk of being accused of distracted or dangerous driving by the other driver.


California Vehicle Code 27400 states that drivers of vehicles, and bicycle riders, are prohibited from wearing headsets and earplugs that cover, rest on, or are inserted into both ears.


Here’s what you need to know regarding California Vehicle Code 27400 which applies to both motorists and persons riding a bike.

  • A person violating Vehicle Code 27400 receives a fine of $197.00.
  • A violator of this code section also receives one point on his DMV driving record. A person risks getting a negligent operator license suspension if he gets 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months or 8 points in 36 months.
  • A person can always challenge a ticket for violating Vehicle Code 27400 by raising a legal defense. But, it’s in that person’s best interest to seek the help of an experienced defense attorney.
  • Drivers and bikers cannot ignore violations of VC 27400. Ignorance of traffic tickets in California can result in an additional charge of failure to appear, per California Vehicle Code 40508, which can be charged as a misdemeanor.


All things to consider the next time you find yourself behind the wheel with your earbuds in.

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