New California Law Bans Holding Cell Phones While Driving

By George Khoury, Esq. on January 04, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Drivers in California need to be aware of the new cell phone law that just recently took effect in 2017. The new cell phone law prohibits all drivers from simply holding a cell phone or other electronic device (such as a GPS) in their hand while driving. If an officer sees a driver holding an electronic device, they can be pulled over and issued a ticket. A first offense will be at least $20, with subsequent offenses being at least $50.

While many drivers may find these laws to be overbearing, the end goal is not to torture drivers, but rather to reduce distracted driving accidents. According to California's Office of Traffic Safety, cell phone use is the number one cause of distractions on the road, and nearly 80 percent of all crashes involve driver inattention.

Mount That Device

Under the new law, drivers wanting to use their mobile devices must have their device safely mounted. A device cannot be mounted in a place that would obstruct the driver's view of the road, or would potentially obstruct an airbag. Generally, mounting the device on the dashboard, or on a heating/cooling vent will be acceptable.

The new law requires that devices be mounted because while it may be illegal to hold the device, using it while driving can still actually be done legally.

Despite the new law prohibiting holding electronic devices, the law actually does take into account the changing way in which phones and other electronic devices are being safely used in vehicles. The new law permits a driver, if their device is properly mounted, to operate their device if it would only require a single tap or swipe. The single tap or swipe exclusion is meant to allow drivers to dismiss notifications, or to answer or end hands-free calls, and change songs. This also allows ride-share drivers to confirm the pick-up or drop-off of a passenger.

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