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Wireless Telephone FAQ for Drivers 18 and Over

Published On: Dec 13 2013 03:15:40 PM CST

Drivers 18 and over will be allowed to use a hands-free device to talk on their wireless telephone while driving. The following FAQs apply to those motorists 18 and over.

Q: Will it be legal to use a Blue Tooth or other earpiece?
A: Yes, however you cannot have BOTH ears covered.

Q: Does the new hands-free law allow you to use the speaker phone function of yourwireless telephone while driving?
A: Yes, as long as you are not holding the phone.

Q: Does the new "hands-free" law allow drivers 18 and over to text page while driving?
A: No. As of January 1, 2009, a new law (California Vehicle Code 23123.5) went into effect prohibiting all motorists from reading, composing or sending a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle.

Q: What if I need to use my telephone during an emergency and I do not have a hands-free device?
A: The law allows a driver to use a wireless telephone to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency.

Q: What are the fines if I'm convicted?
A: The base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. However, with the addition of penalty assessments, the total amount can be more thant riple the base fine.

Q: Will I receive a point on my driver's license if I'm convicted for a violation of the wireless telephone law?
A: NO. The violation is a reportable offense: however, DMV will not assign a violation point.

Q: Will the conviction appear on my driving record?
A: Yes, but the violation point will not be added.

Q: Is there a grace period when motorists will only get a warning?
A: NO. The law went into effect July 1, 2008. Whether a citation is issued is always at the discretion of the officer based upon his or her determination of the most appropriate remedy for the situation.

Q: Are passengers affected by this law?
A: No. This law only applies to the person driving a motor vehicle.

Q: Do these laws apply to out-of-state drivers whose home states do not have such laws?
A: Yes

Q: Can I be pulled over by a law enforcement officer for using my handheld wireless telephone?
A: YES. A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction.

Q: What if my phone has a push-to-talk feature, can I use that?
A: No. As of July 1, 2011, the previously provided exception expired for those operating a commercial motor truck or truck tractor (excluding pickups), implements of husbandry, farm vehicle or tow truck, to use a two-way radio operated by a "push-to-talk" feature. However, a push-to-talk feature attached to a hands-free ear piece or other hands-free device is acceptable.

Q: What other exceptions are there?
A: Operators of an authorized emergency vehicle during the course of employment are exempt as are those motorists operating a vehicle on private property

Information from California Highway Patrol.