Bill Would Toughen California’s Hands-Free Driving Law

SACRAMENTO (KCBS) – There’s a new effort to put some teeth in California’s ban on using cell phones while driving, making a second offense an even stiffer moving violation.

KCBS’ Matt Bigler Reports:

It’s estimated that 30 to 40 percent of California drivers are ignoring the state’s hands-free cellphone law.

One of the reasons that people have been flagrantly disobeying the law could be that the first violation costs only $20. That’s why State Senator Joe Simitian of Palo Alto, who authored the original cellphone law, has written a new bill that would increase fines to more than $300, and make a second offense a moving violation, which is more serious.

The bill has passed a Senate committee.

Meanwhile, the CHP is increasing enforcement on those driving while using cell phone on Thursday, and again on Tuesday as part of a statewide crackdown this month.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Matt Bigler
  • Kodiax

    works for me.. im tired of people not paying attention while driving.

  • RAN

    Works for me too. Along with just plain bad drivers especially in California,
    the law is heavily flaunted with little enforcement. Add a cell phone and /or a texting
    device and the offender turns into a rolling wreck waiting to happen.

  • Cindy Wilcox

    I completely agree with all of the above but today they went too far. I don’t talk on my cell phone while driving and I wouldn’t even think of texting while driving, I can barely accomplish that when standing still. Today though, I was sited for listening to my GPS. The cop, who was sooooooo polite yelled at me about how he saw me with the phone up to my ear and saw me talking into the cell phone. When I tried to show him that this was impossible on my phone since I was listening to the GPS instructions and you can see that the GPS is on. He wouldn’t give me the time of day and just kept yelling at me. This, while I took a half day off work to go to the police station to request a hearing for a parking ticket for an inoperable fire hydrant that is incorrectly zoned. This is the third appeal in order to get to actually talk to a judge. Of course the office was closed since they are now closed on Friday mornings. This contradicts what is on the letter they sent me telling when their office is open to request the hearing all day. I also called the phone number on the form for the office this morning to verify that they would be open and at what time they would be open. The person who answered, no I am not kidding or exaggerating, she called three different numbers and could not get anyone to answer the phone. She suggested that I call 311 to verify the hours of this office. I did, I am not kidding, I am not exaggerating, she called five different departments and could not get anyone to answer a phone. This also was not in their jurisdiction so any information they could provide me was as a courtesy. There were no answering machines with this information on any of the numbers that I or the people that I just mentioned called.

    I was in the Peace Corps years ago and San Francisco no longer qualifies as being in a first world country. This is the third world, this is what it looks like. Welcome to America.

  • samouelbernstein

    On JAN 1, 2011, the revised law removes ANY & ALL references to Digital two way radios (e.g. PTT radios i.e. Nextel), CB radios, Walkie-Talkies, private frequency company FM radios and Ham radios. Many of such devices cannot be operated “hands free” (they require than a mic be “keyed”).

    These devices are no longer mentioned or even referred to in the revised law. Therefore, if they are not SPECIFICALLY INCLUDED BY DESCRIPTION, then they are automatically excluded. The law ONLY specifically includes a narrow classification of devices described as “Cellular phones.”

    The public, law enforcement and the courts cannot “INFER” that something is illegal – it must me defined. If the legislature had meant to include these other communication devices, then they would (could and should) have included them in the definition of the “outlawed devices.” The legislature intentionally omitted the definitions of devices other than cellular phones – therefore they are legal, until they are included.

    Much like the list of outlawed assault weapons, California courts must throw out this poorly written law, or require a comprehensive list – so everyone knows EXACTLY what is legal & illegal – by their make & model number, operating methods or physical characteristics.

    They are going to have to EXACTLY define what they are going to allow & outlaw. Currently police officers across the state are writing tickets & the courts are errantly upholding traffic citations for drivers using such devices.


    With that language, they would have included ALL OF THE ABOVE DEVICES, it would automatically included new emerging technologies/devices, and would it have outlawed texting as well (a separate law would not have been required).

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