New laws will strictly prohibit use of all hand-held cell phones.
If you’re 18 years or older, the days of using your hand-held cell phone and driving are coming to an end, and if you’re a minor, you can’t talk on a cell phone at all, whether hands-free or hand-held. The new cell phone laws will take effect the 1st of July this year, and the CHP is hoping that the laws will help drivers reduce distraction and focus on the road.
Although talking on the phone while driving will still be discouraged, if you must, you will have to use a hands-free device, such as a BlueTooth. Keep in mind that you cannot have both ears covered.
There are some exceptions to the law; all licensed drivers are permitted to use their cell phone to make emergency calls to law enforcement agencies, medical providers, fire departments, or any other emergency services agencies. Those operating commercial motor trucks or truck tractors, implements of husbandry, farm vehicles, or tow trucks are allowed to use “push to talk” two way radios.
While the DMV won’t assign a violation point, the offense will appear on their record. The ticket for the first offense is $76 and $190 for the second offense.
One issue that isn’t specifically covered in the new laws are rules on text messaging. While the law does not particularly prohibit texting while driving, an officer can pull over any driver of any age if he feels the driver was distracted and not operating the vehicle safely. The CHP has always stated that text messaging while driving is unsafe at any speed and is strongly discouraged.