Update to CA Cell Phone Driving Law

You are most likely already aware that California has a law which restricts the use of cell phones while driving. What you may not know is that this law was updated as of January 1st to restrict the use of hand-held devices for all purposes—not merely calls and texts. This means no more checking the weather, Googling, or getting directions when you’re on the road.

The good news is that the new law carves out an exception for cell phone use when 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 . . . .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.

The fine for violating the new law is $20 and increases to $50 for subsequent offenses. However, these amounts do not taking into account the “processing” fees generally tacked onto moving violations by the DMV. These fees can exceed $100 per violation. Furthermore, many auto insurers treat cell phone tickets as moving violations, which means they can result in elevated premiums. So, the true cost of a cell phone ticket is likely much greater than the amount of the fine.

In short, talk if you must. Just do using an appropriately mounted device and always apply common sense.