Man driving while on cell phone

Driving with a Cell Phone

With the popularization of cell phones and other handheld devices all around the world, it is no wonder that these devices have taken over our lives.

Using the phone while simply walking has already caused trouble in the streets of New York. In the U.S, one in four accidents is caused by a driver distracted by his phone. Due to these incidents, driving laws have changed substantially in the last decade to now include penalties for distracted drivers. In California, it is strictly forbidden to use any hand-held device while driving; doing so will result in a fine of at least $75 the first occurrence, and it will go on your driving record.

CA Driving Laws

While driving laws in California are quite strict, and you can be pulled over for incurring in this offense, there is no law in place that will result in your incarceration if you are pulled over for using a handheld device while driving. What will result in your arrest is if an accident that caused injury to other people and/or public or private property occurs, regardless of whether you were using a hand-held device or not, though if you were it will be considered a contributing factor in the accident, and may result in heavier penalties. This is where having an understanding of the bail bond process may come in handy.

Driving laws in California are among the most comprehensive in the country and they follow a worldwide trend of attempting to make the road safer by putting a ban on mobile communications while driving. Understanding the laws and their application will help you understand what you can and cannot do, as well as which fines you can fight in court and which are definitely out of the question. Driving laws in California change depending on your age; the rules applied to a driver who is under 18 years old differ slightly from those applied to the general public.

Minors and Driving

If you are under 18, you may not use any sort of communication device while driving, whether this be a hands-free device or not. Doing so will result in a fine and maybe even the loss of your driving privileges. The only circumstance under which you may use your phone is to call the police, fire department or ambulances. A police officer may not pull you over for using a hands-free device, as it is considered a secondary offence, however, they may cite you for a violation if they pull you over for a different reason.

If you are over 18 the laws are slightly more relaxed; it is allowed for a driver to use a hands-free device to make calls, though the practice is far from encouraged. The only restriction in the use of a hands-free device is to make sure that the earpiece only covers one ear, this is to ensure you remain aware of your surroundings.

In California, texting is strictly forbidden; under no circumstances should you write, send or read emails or text while driving. A police officer can pull you over for this offence and the fine is $20 for the first time and $50 for every recurrence in the offence; however, there are certain things that can make your fine double, such as the amount of points in your driving record, or if you incurred in the offence while driving on the highway or in a school zone.

The popularity of selfies has also caused extra driving laws to be passed in California. Starting from January, 2017, it will be forbidden to hold any communication device, making it illegal to take selfies while driving. From the start of 2017, the only reason you may have a cell phone in your hands while at the wheel is to call emergency services. You may install text-to-speech apps to read your texts to you, and use hands-free devices to reply, but you are not allowed to have a phone in your hand at all. Drivers may install a mount on the windshield or vent that will allow them to look at their phones if they need to, for example when using a map app to get to their destination.

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