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California Bans Hand-Held Phone Use for Drivers

As of January 1, 2017, it will be illegal for all drivers in California to hold or operate their cellphone while they are driving a motor vehicle. The state’s total ban on hand-held phone usage is in response to the rise in distracted driving accidents and the need to close a loophole in the previous law – one that banned texting and talking, but did not address other actions such as shooting videos, taking pictures, etc.

The law bans all hand-held use of smartphones and other electronic devices, including actions such as:

  • Scrolling
  • Swiping
  • Texting
  • Live-streaming videos
  • Browsing the web
  • Playing on apps
  • Checking maps
  • Setting playlists
  • Taking selfies

View the full text of the bill.

Penalties for violating the new law start at $20 and increases for each subsequent offense.

This is an example of why it is important to have laws keep up with the changes in society as technology continues to evolve. In recent years, it has become increasingly popular for drivers to check Facebook, scroll Spotify, or send Snapchat photos while driving. The introduction of this new law is expected to discourage these bad habits and hopefully make the roads safer for everyone.

Exceptions to the Law

While the law bans hand-held usage, it still allows limited use while the device is mounted or when using hands-free devices.

You CAN use your phone if:

  • The device is mounted onto the dashboard or windshield
  • The voice-activation mode is turned on
  • You are using a hands-free device

However, the safest way to avoid an accident is to not use your phone in order to minimize distractions.

Call Us If You Were Injured by a Distracted Driver

At Rouda Feder Tietjen & McGuinn, we have a team of dedicated car accident attorneys in San Francisco who have extensive experience representing the injured. If you need help, contact one of our attorneys for assistance. We can review your claim and explain your rights and options.

Call (415) 940-7176 or send us a message online.