New Cell Phone Law To Combat Distracted Driving Goes Into Effect January 1

On January 1, 2017, California will institute a new cell phone law to combat distracted driving, targeting handheld cell phone use by drivers. California law previously made it illegal for drivers to hand hold their cell phones while talking or texting, but other uses, such as choosing music playlists, checking maps, posting on Facebook, or taking photos or videos was arguably legal. The new cell phone law is designed to close that loophole. As of January 1, drivers may not hold their cellphones in their hands for any reason.

Concern about distracted driving and the real danger it poses was the impetus behind this new law signed by Governor Brown in September. The law makes it easier for law enforcement officers who can now stop and cite drivers for any handheld cellphone use.

The new law allows motorists to use their cellphones if they do so hands-free, that is, via Bluetooth or voice activated and operated. To do so, cell phones will need to be mounted on the car’s windshield or dashboard. If the driver needs to touch the phone screen, s/he may do so only once, using a single swipe or tap of the finger to activate or deactivate a function.

The law is specific as to where the cellphone can be mounted on the windshield. It must either be within a 5-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield to the driver’s left side, or within a 7-inch square in the lower corner of the windshield on the passenger’s side. If mounted on the dashboard, the phone cannot be in the way of possible airbag deployment or cause any obstruction of the driver’s view of the roadway.

If  you wish further information about the legal ramifications of this new cell phone law, please contact us.