New Wireless Telephone Laws – Effective July 1, 2008
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) has recently released a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) regarding two new laws that address the use of wireless telephones while driving. Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with these new laws.
Q: When do the new wireless telephone laws take effect?
A: A: The new laws take effect July 1, 2008.
Q: What is the difference between the two laws?
A: The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle unless the telephone is configured to allow hands-free operation (Vehicle Code (VC) 23123). The second law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 to use a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC 23124).
Q: What if I need to use my telephone during an emergency and I do not have a hands- free device?
A: The law allows a driver to use a wireless telephone to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider or the fire department.
Q: What are the fines if I’m convicted?
A: According to the Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedule, with the addition of penalty assessments, a first offense is $76 and a second offense is $190.
Q: Will I receive a point on my driver’s license if I’m convicted for a violation of the wireless telephone law?
A: The violation is a reportable offense: however, DMV will not assign a violation point.
Q: Will the conviction appear on my driving record?
A: Yes, but the violation point will not be added.
Q: Will there be a grace period when motorists will only get a warning?
A: There is no grace period.
Q: Are passengers affected by this law?
A: This law applies only to the driver of the vehicle.
Q: Do these laws apply to out-of-state drivers whose home states do not have such laws?
Q: Can I be pulled over by a law enforcement officer for using my handheld wireless telephone?
A: YES. A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction.
Q: What if my phone has a push-to-talk feature, can I use that?
A: No. The law does provide an exception for those operating a commercial motor truck or truck tractor (excluding pickups), implements of husbandry, farm vehicle or tow truck, to use a two-way radio operated by a “push-to-talk” feature.
Q: What other exceptions are there?
A: Operators of an authorized emergency vehicle during the course of employment are exempt as are those motorists operating a vehicle on private property.
Q: Does the new “hands-free” law prohibit you from dialing a wireless telephone while driving or just talking on it?
A: The new law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.
Q: Will it be legal to use a Blue Tooth or other earpiece?
A: Yes, however you cannot have BOTH ears covered.
Q: Does the new hands-free law allow you to use the speaker phone function of your wireless telephone while driving?
Q: Does the new “hands-free” law allow drivers 18 and over to text page while driving?
A: The law does not specifically prohibit that, but an officer can pull over and issue a citation to a driver of any age if, in the officer’s opinion, the driver was distracted and not operating the vehicle safely. Text paging while driving is unsafe and is strongly discouraged.
Q: Am I allowed to use my wireless telephone hands free?
A: Drivers under the age of 18 may not use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop or any other electronic communication or mobile services device to speak or text while driving in any manner, even hands free, EXCEPT to call police, fire or medical authorities. (VC 23124).
Q: Why is the law stricter for provisional drivers?
A: Statistics show that teen drivers are more likely than experienced drivers to be involved in crashes because they lack driving experience and take greater risks. Teen drivers are vulnerable to driving distractions such as talking with passengers, eating or drinking, and talking or texting on wireless phones, all which increase the chance of getting involved in serious vehicle crashes.
Q: Can my parents give me permission to allow me to use my wireless telephone while driving?
A: NO. The only exception is an emergency situation that requires you to call a law enforcement agency, a health care provider or the fire department.
Q: Does the law apply to me if I’m an emancipated minor?
A: Yes. The restriction applies to all licensed drivers who are under the age of 18.
Q: If I have my parent(s) or someone age 25 years or older in the car with me, may I use my wireless telephone while driving?
A: NO. You may only use your wireless telephone in an emergency situation.
Q: Will the restriction appear on my provisional license?
Q: May I use the hands-free feature while driving if my car has the feature built in?
A: NO. The law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 from using any type of wireless device while driving, except in an emergency situation.
Q: Can a law enforcement officer stop me for using my hands-free device while driving?
A: This is considered a SECONDARY violation (drivers under 18), meaning that a law enforcement officer may cite you for using a hands-free wireless phone if you were pulled over for another violation. Using a handheld wireless telephone while driving is a PRIMARY violation meaning you can be stopped and cited.