Law goes into effect January 1, 2009, closes loophole in current hands-free restrictions.
A critical loophole in the hands-free phone law that went
into effect July 1 was closed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday,
when he signed Senate Bill 28, making texting on cell phones while driving
The prohibition goes into effect January 1, 2009.
While the timing is coincidental, the bill’s signing was not
in response to the Sept. 12 Metrolink collision that killed 25 and injured 135
people, where it was determined that the engineer may have been sending a text
message just prior to the crash.
SB28 was one of the first bills signed by the governor out
of approximately 800 pieces of legislation held hostage during the recent
The texting prohibition had been proposed in December of
2006, to close the gap in the original hands-free legislation. It was passed by
both the Assembly and Senate in August of this year.
On Sept. 18, the California Public Utilities Commission
temporarily prohibited the use of cell phones and texting devices by on-duty
railroad engineers, brakemen, conductors or rail transit vehicle operators on
moving trains in response to the tragedy.
“Because of the possible danger to passengers, the general
public and the railroad workers themselves, prohibiting the personal use of
cellular devices is necessary and reasonable,” said CPUC President Michael R.
Peevey, who noted that there are no existing federal or state laws, rules or
regulations prohibiting such inappropriate use of cellular devices.