As a traffic attorney I am frequently asked about this new traffic law. Here’s the scoop. California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5 is the new law that went into effect on January 1, 2017 regarding use of cell phones and similar devices. This law now forbids not only texting and and making a call without a hands free device, but other instances that are equally if not more distracting to drivers such as using your phone to enter destinations in you map apps, etc.. Unless the function can be accessed by a single tap or swipe, it’s probably now a violation.
The text of the law follows. It excludes car manufacturer installed systems and requires that personal devices must be physically mounted to the windshield or center console in a manner that does not inhibit the drivers view of the road. The fines are stated as $20 for a first offense and $50 thereafter. However the civil assessments by your local court could be hundreds of dollars. I personally fight traffic infractions and misdemeanors, including DUI’s and other more serious offenses and can often get these tickets dismissed. If you want advice please call me at 619-322-5695 to discuss your case, no obligation whatsoever.
by Clay Renick, Esq.
Vehicle Code Section 23123.5
(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.
(b) This section shall not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in the vehicle.
(c) A handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device may be operated in a manner requiring the use of the driver’s hand while the driver is operating the vehicle only if both of the following conditions are satisfied:
(1) The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in the same manner a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) is mounted pursuant to paragraph (12) of subdivision (b) of Section 26708 or is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road.
(2) The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.
(d) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.
(e) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.
(f) For the purposes of this section, “electronic wireless communications device” includes, but is not limited to, a broadband personal communication device, a specialized mobile radio device, a handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access, a pager, or a two-way messaging device.
(Repealed and added by Stats. 2016, Ch. 660, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 2017.)
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