California Distracted Driving Laws

California has an astonishing 22 million licensed drivers, which helps to explain why driving laws in California tend to be very influential on surrounding states and even the nation’s laws. Since our state is known for progressive lawmaking, what works in California is often adopted in whole or in part in smaller states. One of the areas in which California laws have gone through a number of changes in recent years is distracted driving. The emphasis here has been on restrictions to the use of cell phones, since they are strongly linked to distracted driving and vehicular accidents. As your Southern California car accident lawyers, the team here at Steinberg Injury Lawyers wants to make sure our clients and readers are as aware of these laws as possible.

What are the California laws relating to cell phones and distracted driving?

There are four California laws regarding cell phone use while driving. Two of these laws completely ban handheld cell phone use while driving, no matter the age of the driver. The third law applies only to drivers under the age of 18 and makes it illegal for those drivers to use even hands-free calling devices. This prohibition includes Bluetooth or wired headsets, devices connecting a cell phone to the car’s speaker system, and even simply putting a cell phone call on the speaker setting to talk. The fourth law addresses a recurring distracted driver problem that the other three laws fail to cover by prohibiting texting while driving (no matter the age of the driver).

What are some of the exceptions to these laws?

While California distracted driving laws are fairly ubiquitous, there are a few exceptions to be aware of and take advantage of (as long as you are still being as safe as possible). Here are some you might need to know about:

  • You can use a cell phone to call or text when you are doing it on your private property, such as your driveway, private road, or acreage.
  • You can use a cell phone, either handheld or hands-free, to make a necessary call to police, fire, or other emergency services.
  • You can use a cell phone while driving if you yourself are the authorized driver of an emergency services vehicle.
  • Drivers 18 years of age and over can briefly use a handheld cell phone to dial a call, although they must then switch to a speaker or headset for the actual call.

With several different distracted driver laws, it can be difficult to determine when another driver involved in a car crash may have been breaking these laws at the time of the accident. If you’ve been involved in an accident of any type, call the accident attorneys at Steinberg Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation. Our number is 1-800-350-8888 and we are here to help.

Peter Steinberg
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Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney Since 1982
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