Texting While Driving Laws in California
Using a cell phone while driving isn’t just dangerous, it’s illegal in California. Nearly all states have some type of cell phone ban, but California completely bans the use of texting at all times while driving a vehicle.
Under California law, drivers cannot use a cell phone or similar electronic communication device while driving. There are exceptions, however, as smartphones can be used in vehicles driving in the state if they are:
- Mounted on the driver’s dashboard
- Mounted on the lower right side of the driver’s windshield in a seven-inch square area
- Mounted on the lower left corner of the driver’s windshield in a five-inch square area
- Mounted in the center console
This is because although the phone is in use, it is mounted in an area where the driver cannot actively use the device with their hands. While the phone is mounted, drivers can swipe or tap the screen once to activate or deactivate a feature. However, drivers cannot swipe multiple times and input information into a text or email.
The law also applies to drivers using their devices at stop signs and traffic lights as well. Drivers under the age of 18 are entirely prohibited from using a phone while driving a car, even if it is a hands-free device.
Even with these laws in place, however, distracted driving behaviors are still rampant across the nation. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving claimed the lives of 3,142 individuals in 2020. Experts speculate that one in four car accidents occur because a driver was using a cell phone.
Penalties for Texting While Driving in California
Drivers in California pulled over for distracted driving citations can pay much more than one may think. Previous state laws gave counties the right to impose additional fees to fund courthouse and jail construction, with violators receiving as much as $150 in fines for their first violation. In 2019, California passed Assembly Bill 47, which raised the fine amount for first-time distracted driving offenses above $20. The law went into effect in July 2021, with minimum fees increasing to $162 for the first offense and additional fees depending on the county where the citation was issued.
Additionally, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will add a point to a driver’s driving record for distracted driving citations that will remain for up to 36 months. By having points on their record, drivers can expect to see increases in their insurance rates and may need to attend a state-approved traffic school to have these points removed.
California Texting While Driving Lawyers
New California traffic laws are designed to help reduce texting while driving. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to a distracted driver, you should consult with an experienced Sacramento distracted driving lawyer. Find out what to do in a car accident. At Curtis Legal Group, our lawyers don’t charge an upfront fee and we offer free case reviews. We know what it takes to win your case – contact our office today for more information.