California’s New Cell Phone Law in Effect July 1, 2008

Most of us are extremely happy about California’s new cell phone laws that the legislature passed last year.  There is nothing more frustrating than being behind a driver who is completely oblivious to his/her surroundings only to find out they are holding a cell phone up to their ear.  Various studies show how talking on a cell phone while driving can be just as harmful as being under the influence while driving.  One study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that 25 percent of all car accidents are caused by the distracted driver using their cell phone.

Starting on July 1, 2008, two new laws go into effect which relate to the use of cell phones while driving.  The first one, Vehicle Code Section 23123 prohibits all drivers from using handheld wireless phones while driving, unless using a hand-free device (ear piece or Bluetooth speaker phone).  The second law, Vehicle Code Section 23124 prohibits all drivers under the age of 18 from using any handheld wireless device even if it is used with a hands-free component such as an ear piece or Bluetooth speaker phone.

The law allows for calls to be made in cases of emergencies when required to call the police, medical, fire department or other emergency services.  Dialing your phone (which in my opinion is just as distracting as talking) is still allowed. The other interesting thing about this law is that text messages (which in my opinion are even more distracting) are still allowed to be made so long as you are above the age of 18.

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