Texting and driving is universally understood to be dangerous. Some states have outlawed texting while driving, while others have not. California is one of the former, having outlawed texting and driving in 2009. But the law has tightened even further regarding cell phones and driving with the implementation of another law on January 1, 2017 – a law against using a handheld wireless device in any way while driving.
California Vehicle Code § 23123.5 states the following:
“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.”
So what does that mean? What is considered “illegal” and what can a driver in California still do without risking a ticket? Read on to get answers from our Sacramento car accident attorneys at Eliot Reiner, APLC.
What Drivers Are Not Allowed to Do with Their Phones While Driving
This specific law outlaws the use of a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device (think cell phones, smart phones, tablets, etc.). This means that it is illegal for a person to do any of the following while driving:
- Hold their phone in their hand
- Text message
- Talk on the phone (while holding the device)
- Surf the Internet
- Search through music and playlists
- Use social media
- Record videos (while holding the device)
Basically, it is illegal to do anything that involves holding the wireless communication device in your hand while operating a motor vehicle.
What California Drivers Are Allowed to Do with Their Phones While Driving
California drivers with phones that are set up for “hands-free” use may be able to use their cell phones while driving. In order for a phone to be legally used while driving, it must be mounted to the windshield or dashboard in a way that does not obstruct the mirrors or the driver’s view.
Most importantly, however, a driver's phone must have voice-activated capabilities or single-tap / swipe functions that allow the driver to use their GPS, answer calls, and send messages without actually holding the phone in their hand.
If your phone meets the above-mentioned criteria, then you may do the following while driving:
- Use GPS
- Answer calls
- Send voice-dictated messages
Distracted Driving Is Illegal – And Involves More Than Just Phones
An important thing to remember is that distracted driving is illegal in California and it involves more than just using your phone while driving. You can still cause an accident if you are distracted in any of the following ways while driving:
- Adjusting the radio
- Applying makeup
- Looking at a map
Reckless driving is also illegal and can cause serious accidents. You could cause serious personal injury or a fatal accident if you are reckless in any of the following ways:
- Weaving through traffic
- Failing to yield
- Following too closely
- Running stop signs / red lights
- Drinking and driving
- Driving when tired
Hit by a Distracted Driver? Call a Sacramento Car Accident Attorney!
Eliot Reiner APLC is dedicated to helping accident victims recover the compensation they deserve. Get in touch right away if you have been injured in a car accident. Our team will work hard to change your life for the better after such an unexpected tragedy. Contact us today at (916) 778-3228 for a consultation!
- California Vehicle Code § 23123.5
- “California bans text messaging while driving” – SFGATE
- “California’s strict new law: Drivers, put down that cellphone” – The Sacramento Bee