Advisory: New Cell Phone Law goes into Effect on January 1st

The Camarillo Police Department’s Traffic Bureau would like to remind motorists that a new cell phone law takes effect on January 1st 2017.

On Jan 1st, 2017, the existing cell phone law, California Vehicle Code 23123.5, is being repealed and a new cell phone law, which was signed by Governor Brown on September 2016 (Assembly Bill 1785) is being put in its place.

California Vehicle Code 23123.5. now states:

(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.

(b) This section shall not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in the vehicle.

(c) A handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device may be operated in a manner requiring the use of the driver’s hand while the driver is operating the vehicle only if both of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in the same manner a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) is mounted pursuant to paragraph (12) of subdivision (b) of Section 26708 or is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road.

(2) The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.

This new cell phone law means if drivers intend to use their cellphones while operating a motor vehicle, drivers must have their cell phones mounted to the dashboard, center console, or windshield and can only use a “feature” on the phone with a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger. 

A violation of this law is an infraction. The base fine for the first offense is $20.00 and $50 for each subsequent offense.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “The percentage of drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices increased from 1.7 percent in 2013 to 2.2 percent in 2015. Since 2007, young drivers (age 16 to 24) have been observed manipulating electronic devices at higher rates than older drivers. Data shows the average time your eyes are off the road while texting is five seconds. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.”

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