cell phone ticketThe first law that bans all drivers from using hand held cell phones while driving and gives law enforcement the authority to issue cell phone tickets, started on July 1, 2008. The cell phone ticket law does not affect passengers, they are free to use cell phones while traveling in an automobile. The cell phone ticket law applies to anyone driving in California, whether the driver lives in California or not.

There are a few exceptions to the general ban. Hand held cell phones may be used and will not result in a cell phone ticket:

  • to make an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, medical provider, fire department, or other emergency service agency
  • by those operating authorized emergency vehicles, and
  • by those operating vehicles on private property.

The cell phone ticket law does not provide an exception for drivers that have a push-to-talk feature on their cell phone. However, drivers operating a commercial motor truck or truck tractor (but not a pickup), tow truck, or farm vehicle may use a two-way radio operated by a “push-to-talk” feature and will not get a cell phone ticket.

The fine for a first offense for a call phone ticket, including penalty assessments, is $76. A second cell phone ticket offense is $190. Although a cell phone ticket a reportable offense a cell phone ticket will not appear on your driving record. A cell phone ticket will not count as a DMV point. The police have primary enforcement authority for a violation of the cell phone ticket law. That means that an officer can pull you over just for this infraction and issue a cell phone ticket to you.

The second cell phone ticket law, also effective July 1, 2008, governs the use of hands-free cell phones while driving. The rules are different for this type of cell phone tickets, depending on the age of the driver. For the most part, drivers older than 18 will not be issued a cell phone ticket to use hands-free cell phones while driving. These drivers can use Bluetooth or other earpieces, but cannot cover both ears. The new cell phone ticket law also allows drivers over 18 to use the speaker phone function of a wireless cell phone. Drivers will not be issued a cell phone ticket and are allowed to dial a wireless cell phone while driving, but are strongly urged not to do so. The cell phone ticket law does not specifically prohibit text paging while driving. However, an officer has the authority to pull over and issue a cell phone ticket to any driver if the officer believes the driver was distracted by a cell phone and not driving safely. Because text paging is generally considered to be unsafe while driving, doing so may subject you to a cell phone ticket and you could be fined for a cell phone ticket.

The new cell phone ticket law on hands-free devices makes a big change for drivers under the age of 18. Those drivers will be issued a cell phone ticket if they use a wireless telephone, pager, laptop, or any other electronic communication device (whether hand held or hands-free) to either speak or text while driving, period. There are no exceptions for emancipated minors, no exceptions if adults or parents are driving with the youth, and no exceptions for devices built into the car (such as Bluetooth). Drivers under age 18 may use a wireless device in an emergency situation to call the police, fire, or medical authorities and will be issued a cell phone ticket. The fine for a first offense for a cell phone ticket, including penalty assessments, is $76. A second offense for cell phone ticket is $190. The ban on hands-free devices for drivers under 18 is a secondary violation of the cell phone ticket law. This means that an officer cannot pull you over just for this infraction, but an officer can cite you for a cell phone ticket violation if he or she pulls you over for another reason. However, the prohibition on using a hand held cell phone while driving is still a primary violation. Officers can pull over drivers under age 18 just for this infraction and issue a cell phone ticket.

If you have decided to fight cell phone tickets in California use our traffic ticket experts to prepare a cell phone ticket defense for you.

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