Californian drivers, put your phones down

As of today, it is illegal to simultaneously drive and talk on a cell phone in California, excepting only calls to emergency services. There’s no grace period, and under-18s can’t even use a hands-free kit. You guys just have to completely shut up now.

One’s first conviction gets a $20 fine, while repeat hits are for $50. Administrative fees will be added on top, potentially tripling the base fine.

The law doesn’t specifically ban texting, however, which remains under the ambit of driving while distracted.

The Law

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14 Responses to Californian drivers, put your phones down

  1. Akasha says:

    I welcome this law.

    There is a disproportionately large amount of cellphone wielding reckless drivers here in LA. If someone is being an idiot on the road, 80% it’s been someone yapping away.

  2. historyman68 says:

    Interesting that this happens in one of the biggest and most spread-out states. What will you do if you need to make a phone call during your hour or two-hour daily commute?

  3. Agies says:

    @1 You use a hands-free headset like a responsable adult.

  4. mappo says:

    You intead spend the drive reviewing your decision to buy a house two hours away from your job.

  5. Blackhat says:

    All this law really does is force people to use hands-free sets, so they have both hands on the steering wheel instead of one up to their ear. That way they’re less likely to lose control when they have to make a panic stop due to being distracted by their stupid cell phones!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Today a similar law goes into effect in Washington as well.

  7. Johnny Hundo says:

    I’m looking forward to hearing about the greatly diminished number of accidents after the passing of this law…

    …and the increased stock price of JawBone et al.

    More likely an effect on the latter rather than the former.

  8. SamF says:

    If “distracted driving” is already a finable offense, what exactly does this law do? Punish the small number of people who are actually able to talk on the phone while driving without causing a 27-car pileup?

    Still, as much as I hate to see lawmakers passing ridiculous unnecessary laws, I am also amazed that we as a society are utterly incapable of doing ANYTHING anymore without being “connected”. When I was in High School and I had an emergency on the freeway, I used a callbox on the side of the road (oh no, I had to walk 100 yards to get to one!). And if it wasn’t an emergency but was somewhat urgent, I got off the freeway and used a payphone. But aparently the people of today MUST be able to find out what’s for dinner and if they should pick anything up on the way home, where as those of us from the past just had to deal with eating whatever was made when we got there. And now there’s a new law. YOU BROUGHT THIS UPON YOURSELVES, PEOPLE!
    :D

  9. Tubman says:

    @#1, Historyman68: Just how many Californians can there be who “need” to make phone calls while driving, can afford $15-$30 in gas for their daily commute but can’t afford a hands-free headset?

  10. Maffiou says:

    Living in the UK, and having been to California several times so far this year, the amount of people on the phone while driving is quite unbelievable…

    I took a cab from SFO airport to Santa Clara and back and the driver was on his phone 100% of the drive.

  11. Freddie Freelance says:

    It’s illegal to hold a cell phone to your head, not talk on the phone; the 5 million dweebs over 18 with a bluetooth are still chattering away.

  12. Nawel says:

    There’s a similar law in effect in Chile since many years ago; you have to use a hands-free set.

    The weird side is that, at the first stages of this law being enforced, police officers discovered that a lot of drivers used fake plastic (or even wooden) cell phones. They weren’t talking, just wanted to be seen with a cellphone in hand.

    Duh.

    I guess that happens less now that even small kids have cellphones

  13. historyman68 says:

    You intead spend the drive reviewing your decision to buy a house two hours away from your job.

    If you need me, I’ll be sitting in gridlock, banging my head against the steering wheel, going “Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!”

  14. historyman68 says:

    Damn. That first paragraph was supposed to be in quotes.

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