Traffic accidents are the No. 1 killer of U.S. teens and most everyone agrees that driving distractions play a large role in this statistic. One of the most obvious driving distractions, for both teens and adults, is cell phone use while driving. It comes as no surprise that the state of California has passed a law that will limit cell phone use for drivers in the future. Since this law has been passed, there has been plenty of confusion about what the law is and when the law will be in effect.
Most simply, the new law becomes operative July 1st, 2008 and states that no person (teen or adult) may "drive a motor vehicle 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." (as stated in CA Vehicle Code Division 11, Chapter 12, Article 1 >> Section 23123)
So basically, starting July 2008 adults need to go "hands-free" and won't be able to have a phone in their hand while driving (with certain exceptions*).
For teens, the law is even more prohibitive. The new law makes it illegal for those under age 18 to use ANY cell phone device (including hands-free devices), text message devices and laptop computers while driving.
What's the punishment for violating this new law? A base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.
Does this mean that we should use our phones while we drive as much as possible until July 2008? NO!!! Not only does driving with a cell phone (hands-free or otherwise) increase your chance of being distracted, it can still lead to a traffic ticket. What? That's right, talking on a cell phone while driving can lead to hazardous or reckless driving – and you can definitely be ticketed for that.
*For complete details regarding "Hand-Held Wireless Telephone: Prohibited Use" as described in CA Vehicle 23123, please visit your local CA DMV or read the vehicle code online at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc23123.htm
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