New Law Update: Cell Phone Use While Driving
July 1st, 2008 is finally in the rearview mirror and that means it's time for a major change in the lives of many Californians. Why? Because most Californians are drivers and as of July 1st, the new state law regarding wireless telephone use while driving went into effect.
So what exactly does this new change in the California Vehicle Code mean for you? Well it depends on how old you are.
For Teens (under the age of 18)
Sorry kids, but you aren't able to use ANY electronic device while you're driving. That means no cell phone, no text messaging, no laptop, and so on and so forth. Even if your phone is hands-free, you still are not allowed to be driving and using your phone at the same time. Only exception: if you're calling for a true emergency.
For Adults (over the age of 18)
You still can use a cellular phone in your car if you use a hands-free device. So if you plan to still chat on the go, you'll want to invest in a Bluetooth device or another hands-free technology.
It's pretty common sense why the state of CA doesn't want its licensed drivers cruising around and talking on the phone simultaneously. Driving distracted is one surefire way to get into a fender-bender. In fact, 4,300 accidents daily are the result of someone driving distracted. And for teens, who are naturally more inexperienced drivers, driving distracted is even more problematic. According to a CA DMV study, teen drivers failed 54% of driving tasks (such as avoiding a swerving vehicle) when talking on the phone. Yikes!
What's the punishment for violating this new cell phone law? A base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. The base fine does not include any court administrative fees. So in reality, you're looking at a fine of up to $250 when it's all said and done.
*For complete details regarding "Hand-Held Wireless Telephone: Prohibited Use" as described in CA Vehicle Code 23123, please visit your local CA DMV or read the vehicle code online at http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc23123.htm.