New California Hands-Free Cell Phone Laws

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.

There are similar laws in France, as well as automatic radars. They both represent more than 400 million euros of [new] taxes for the state (+$600m).
The lastest find is a police officer disguised as a regular biker : he waits on the side of the road, looking harmless, but he specialises in spotting people using their phones while driving. Owned, yes.

California, welcome to hell.
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i have a huge problem with these laws, because they don't adress the real problem: talking on the phone while driving is distracting. period. having two free hands doesn't change that one whit. in college, i was almost ran over four or five times by people on cell phones who were blatantly ignoring traffic laws(running lights, not yielding to right of way traffic, etc). again, having an extra free hand isn't going to keep these people from running a light. we need to just face the fact that engaging in other activities while you are driving is dangerous.
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This has been the law in Chicago for 2 years (??) now. It's never enforced. Every time you see a bad driver, it's a person who's on their cell phone (or a cab driver).
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My back was broken as the result of a driver in CA in 2000. I can walk with crutches now, after spending 2000-2004 in a bed unable to use my legs or back at all. Even though texting and laptop use isn't covered by this law, at least it's a start.

Now I only have to worry a bout getting hit by a driver with a chihuahua in their lap.
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It's a stupid unneeded law. There are already BROADER laws on the books against "distracted driving" and "careless driving" which a cop can use to write up tickets for distracted phoning (or kid-slapping, french-fry eating or whatever). The cell phone law only exists because politicians can get some press coverage over sponsoring the legislation (usually crassly timing a press conference usually to take advantage of a tragedy). The law is just redundant and adds nothing other than sucking up resources. Your tax dollars at work.
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we had a group debate over this exact topic and the over-all consensus was that laws banning cell-phone usage is a) stupid, and b) nothing different from other distractions in the car. our professor told us that back in the 80s when car stareos were being installed in-factory, people reacted the same way as people are reacting to cell phones today. it's just another distraction and not an individual problem. yes, i do admit people on cell phones are sometimes dangerous on the road. but what i've found even more of a nuisance and danger to the road is soccer moms in minivans and the elderly.

moral of the story: distractions are dangerous, especially when driving! duh!
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oh, and that kid in the video deserved to be yelled at. he was just provoking them, and being entirely inconsiderate and disrespectful. i don't care if he was just trying to be funny.. i think he hurt his case more than anything. you can't be stupid behind the wheel, no matter what your intentions are.
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Not different than other distractions, EXCEPT that a LOT of people are on their phone all the time when driving. So, it's a permanent distraction, instead of a bee in the car or something.
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Four words for cell phone drivers: SHUT UP AND DRIVE!

Around here, if a law like this was passed, it'd be the cops that would be hardest hit. Most any time I see a cop driving down the street he's talking on a cell phone. And that's with a city ordinance already on the books banning city employees from using a cell phone while driving as part of their job.
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Now they are just inventing super complicated handsfree devices that are just as distracting as cell phones and actually require you to take your eyes off the road.

This is a loophole that definately need to be addressed!
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Just another stop-gap "Shit for Brains" law that doesn't address the real problem of many of the bad drivers out there. California simply needs to enforce their existing laws, such as, speed limits, unsafe lane changes, ignoring signs, etc. If you are on a hand-held or non hand-held cell phone is not important. The next thing on the lawmakers agenda will be to control your brain while driving-not a bad idea! California law makers need to wise-up, if such a thing is possible.
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I started a small business selling only the Top 10 Bluetooth Headsets. If you need any, particularly for the new California law, get it from me. thanks.
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I just have one HUGE problem about this law... I now have no way of knowing if a driver with a headset is actually talking on their cell phone. And let us admit it... talking on the cell phone while driving, with or without a headset, takes away the driver's attention.

The only way I could determine if a driver with a cell phone would be a danger to me was to see if they have their cell phone held up to their ear.

What CA government should have done was banning cell phones from all Class C drivers while driving. So when any one of them is breaking the law by having their cell phone held up to their ear, everyone else can see that and distance themselves from that driver.
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Can someone give me an idea whether or not I should go for a smart phone or just use a more stylish phone and wait for some better technology? I am on the Sprint network, and was referred to , but I'm not seeing any options that look like smart phones. I don't need an MP3 player or a camera, I'd rather have a phone that is lighter and easier to carry. Any recommendations would be welcome.
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I found out about this law on I think the law is pretty bogus when you consider what else others do while driving. If talking on a cell phone is illegal, why isnt doing your makeup or eating a hamburger?
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