Distracted driving has become a serious, life and death problem across the United States. People seem to be unable to stop looking at their phones or engaging in other dangerously distracting behaviors while behind the wheel and it is costing people their lives and well-being. That is why states have started becoming more and more proactive in establishing distracted driving legislation to try and encourage drivers to do the right thing and pay attention to the road when behind the wheel. California is, of course, no exception. In recent years, the California state legislature has passed several distracted driving laws in an attempt to keep Californians safer out on the road.
What are California’s Distracted Driving Laws?
Under California law, distracted driving is considered to be anything that draws your mind or your eyes off of the road or your hands off of the steering wheel. It especially considers texting or using your phone to be a distracted driving behavior and that is why California distracted driving laws focus heavily on reducing the number of accidents caused by cell phone-related distracted driving.
As it currently stands, California has laws on the book banning all drivers from texting or from using handheld cellphones and devices while driving. Additionally, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any cell phones or devices while driving, even if they are hands-free. Furthermore, school bus operators as well as transit bus operators are prohibited from using cell phones while driving, even if they are hands-free.
There are, however, exceptions to these general prohibitions on cell phone use while driving. For instance, texting is permissible if done using hands-free voice-to-text technology. Cell phone use while driving is permissible in emergency situations, such as if you need to call an ambulance or the police. It should also be noted that distracted driving laws are not applicable when driving on private property.
Violating California’s distracted driving laws can land you with significant fines and possible points on your driving record. Your first distracted driving offense may cost you a $162 fine. Any subsequent offenses may cost you $285 in fines. Furthermore, if you had another citation for distracted driving within the previous 18 months, points can be added to your driving record.
California law enforcement may use primary or secondary enforcement measures for distracted driving laws. Primary enforcement means that law enforcement can pull you over solely on the suspicion that you are violating the state’s distracted driving laws. Secondary enforcement means you may be cited for distracted driving even when you are pulled over for violating a different law. Distracted driving laws in California are primarily enforced with primary enforcement measures.