Woman on her phone in her car, holding iced coffee.

California Distracted Driving Laws

The age of the smartphone has been upon us for quite some time now. It is second nature for us to check our phones constantly, sometimes without being fully aware of what we are doing. Unfortunately, our dependence on this handheld technology has had some tragic consequences out on the roads. Distracted driving crashes have caused devastating injuries, sometimes fatalities. The problem reached the point where legislative intervention became necessary. California has distracted driving laws in place in the hopes that people will be more mindful of avoiding the use of technology when behind the wheel.

California Distracted Driving Laws

Using your mobile device while driving is dangerous and also, most of the time, runs afoul of California law. California law prohibits the handheld use of phones for making calls, reading, and writing messages when a driver is out on a public road. Drivers are only authorized to use their mobile device in a hands-free way, such as through the use of a speakerphone option or using voice commands. Without hands-free capability, you are not legally able to use your mobile phone while driving. The exception to this is if you are private property, or if it is necessary to make an emergency call to law enforcement or another, comparable, agency.

California law defines a hands-free mobile device system as one where the device is safely mounted someplace such as the windshield or the dashboard. Safely mounted means that it does not at all block a driver’s view of the road. The driver must have the ability to activate or deactivate the device with a single tap. It should also be noted that drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use mobile devices while driving even if they have hands-free capabilities.

If you are caught using your mobile device in an authorized manner while driving, you will receive a $20 base fine for the first offense and a $50 base fine for a second or subsequent offense. On top of the base fine, assessments will be added. Usually, assessments end up increases the penalty up to $150 for a first offense and $250 for a second or subsequent offense. While points are not currently assessed for distracted driving violations, they will be as of next year. For violations that occur on or after July 1, 2021, the DMV will assess one point should the violation occur within 36 months of a prior conviction.

Personal Injury Attorneys

California is taking the dangers of distracted driving very seriously. In fact, the California Office of Traffic Safety began a “Put Your Phone Down. Just Drive” public awareness and education campaign so the public could be made more aware of how devastating the impacts of distracted driving can be. If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, talk to the knowledgeable attorneys at SoCal Injury Lawyers. We zealously advocate on behalf of our clients. Contact us today.