Have you ever been stuck behind someone who's too distracted to drive because he was talking on a cell phone? Well, up to 65% of California drivers have admitted they've done it (I personally believe the number is higher) - and come July 1st, it's going to be illegal to talk and drive with a hand held cell phone in the Golden State.
However, since there are a lot of drivers in California, the state's new law has driven cell phone device makers into high gear. This new funny YouTube "hidden camera clip" clip from Parrot, for example, shows driving instructors driven nuts by a kid who won't stop talking on his cell phone! ("I don't have brake, I don't have brake!")Watch the video here:
Here's what you should know about the new California Hands-Free Law (actually, two laws - more on that below):
- Driving and talking using hand-held cell phones is illegal on all California roadways
- Hands-free devices, such as bluetooth handsets, wired headsets and car speaker phones are OK. You can also use the speaker phone function on your cell phone (though you probably have to yell).
- If your phone has the "push to talk" feature, that's illegal to use too.
- First offense: $20, Each additional offense: $50. No violation point, but it will appear on your driving record.
- Exception to the law: calling law enforcement authorities for emergency purposes.
- Exempted from the law: Commercial truck drivers, tow truck drivers and operators of farming vehicles and emergency vehicles. Also, the law does not apply on private roads.
- The California law is primary enforcement: a police may pull you over and give you a ticket for using a hand-held cell phone while driving without any other offense.
Remember that I said two laws? In addition to the hands-free law above, there is another law coming into effect July 1st:
- No driver under the age of 18 can use cell phone, either hand-held or hands-free, while driving. That also means no texting. No pager, too.
- Exception: to call the police, fire or medical authorities for emergency situations
- If you're under 18 and use a hands-free cell phone, the police needs to pull you over for another traffic violation before he can ticket you for this particular offense (it's a secondary enforcement, not a primary one). BUT, if you are spotted using a hand-held cell phone, then that is enough for a cop to pull you over.
More info: California Department of Motor Vehicles
California is actually not the only state to have cell phone driving laws - four other states (Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, and Washington) as well as the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have similar laws. See: Governors Highway Safety Associaton's webpage.