A bill, which has been signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, makes it clear that Californians simply cannot use a handheld mobile phone while driving. California was among the first states to pass a statewide ban on using a cell phone while driving in 2006. But the law was passed at a time when people mostly used their phones for texting and phone calls. The first iPhone had not even been released back then and social media wasn’t quite the phenomenon it is today.
Spelling Out the Law
Well, now, the California distracted driving law is all caught up. It now recognizes that smartphones have an abundance of available features that demand the driver’s attention. For example, when a driver looks at the GPS and scrolls down e-mail or posts on his or her social media site, those activities are all distracting. But, they were not illegal, technically.
With the passage of AB 1785, it is now officially illegal to operate any communication device with your hands for any reason at all. And that includes getting directions, live-streaming the traffic, or snapping driving selfies. Incidentally, California was number one on the list for people snapping driving selfies. So, clearly, this is much-needed legislation for the Golden State.
The law allows for using a finger for a single tap or swipe on your phone to answer or end a call while in hands-free mode. But it allows only that one touch. If you like to use your phone for directions, you will need to have the phone locked into an approved mount on the dashboard or center console, which keeps it visible without obstructing your view of the roadway. Violators will face a $20 fine for the first violation and $50 for a second. Those amounts are just the state minimum. Local municipalities have the latitude to slap fines on motorists that might be a lot higher.
The Scourge of Distracted Driving
As California car accident lawyers who represent the rights of injured victims and their families, we absolutely welcome this new and updated distracted driving law. We understand that these laws could be challenging to enforce, but we also know that these laws are necessary in order to clarify what’s allowed and what’s not. When you drive distracted, whether it’s because of a smartphone or something else, you are putting yourself, your passengers and others in grave danger.
A distracted driver is a negligent driver. If you have been injured in a distracted driving accident, you could seek compensation for your losses including medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide you with more information about pursuing your legal rights.