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California Texting and Driving/Distracted Driving Laws

by John Gomez | Last Updated: April 29, 2016

Following the nationwide trend to prohibit texting and driving laws, California has created several laws banning the use of cell phones while driving. The state enacted these laws to protect California citizens, behind the wheel, in the passenger seat, and pedestrians. Make sure you’re aware of the laws, enforcements, and repercussions of texting and driving before you make a deadly mistake.

What Are California’s Distracted Driving Laws?

Distracted driving has led to hundreds of thousands of fatal car accidents, pedestrian hit-and-runs, and fender benders across the nation. As the younger generation takes to the road, they can’t resist using their phones to scroll through social media sites, messaging friends, and even taking photos while in traffic. Adults and teenagers alike have a growing dependence on cell phones, and they often find it difficult to avoid using them while in the car.

Laws surrounding texting and driving and distracted driving vary from state to state. California has laws prohibiting drivers from using cell phones, prohibiting drivers under 18 from using hands-free cell phones, and banning texting while driving completely.

Due to a rise in safety concerns, state lawmakers have made it a primary offense to use a cell phone while driving, meaning law enforcement can pull drivers over just for this infraction. Breaking this law is punishable with a $76 fine for a first offense, $190 for a second offense, and higher penalties for subsequent offenses. These penalties will appear on your permanent driving record. Even if you are only visiting California and not a resident, you must abide by these rules.

Drivers younger than 18 cannot use any type of hands-free device to speak or text while driving, no matter what. The only exception to this rule is making a call in the event of an emergency to call the police or fire department. While this is a secondary offense, meaning officers must have a separate reason for pulling you over to cite you for a violation, the fines still remain the same.

Texting and Driving in California

The law prohibits any form of texting – reading, writing, or sending – while driving under California law as of 2009. The base fine for this violation is $20 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. However, many state officials will increase this amount based on other penalty assessments to discourage texting and driving.

If you need to send a text message or make a non-emergency call, pull over to the side of the road when safe to do so. Never use your phone during hazardous conditions, hands-free or not. Dial sensibly or use voice commands to dial for you. Never text and drive, no matter what the circumstances are.

San Diego Texting and Driving Awareness

April is Distracted Driving Month, and a driving safety program at University of California San Diego’s School of Medicine surveyed local college students to find out if they were in the habit of texting while driving or other forms of distracted driving. The study found that over 60% of students admitted to texting and driving on the freeway in stop-and-go traffic and 87% said they text and drive while at stoplights. This is just the number of students who admitted to doing so, and may not represent the full scope of the issue.

If you’ve been involved in a distracted driving accident, call the personal injury lawyers at Gomez Trial Attorneys right away to discuss your options moving forward. Whether you were a driver, passenger, or pedestrian in a distracted driving accident, Gomez car accident attorneys can help. We’ve seen thousands of car accidents in San Diego in the past decade and recovered millions of dollars in compensations for our clients. Contact us to find out how we can help you navigate a lawsuit today.





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