Distracted Driving Laws in California
March 7, 2019

Most people know that texting while driving is illegal in California. However, many people do not know that they don’t have to be in the act of texting to someone to violate California law. If you’re using your cellphone at all while driving, you could be cited. If you are applying makeup or changing clothes while driving, you could be cited. Let’s take a closer look at distracted driving laws in California.

Cellphone Ticket Laws (VC 23123)

Under California Vehicle Code Section 23123, you could be cited if you:

  • Use a mobile phone for calling or reading or writing text messages while driving on a public road, OR
  • Are under the age of 18 and you use a phone via a hands-free device while driving

Drivers over the age of 18 may use cellphone features (such as calling or texting) as long as they using it hands free.

However, that does not mean that you cannot get a ticket if you were pulled for eating while driving or doing something other than texting.

What is Distracted Driving?

Under California law, you could be ticketed if you drive with a “wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” What does this mean exactly?

In simple terms, a violation of this law is considered “distracted driving.” It means you were operating your vehicle while also doing some other type of activity. The other activity could be eating, applying makeup, changing clothes, or any number of other activities. Essentially, you are a distracted driver when you let your mind wander during your drive, you take your eyes off the road, or you take your hands off the wheel.

The Difference Between Distracted Driving and DUI

Distracted driving can have equally harmful and destructive results as drunk driving. The National Safety Council has estimated that texting while driving amounted to 341,000 auto accidents in 2013. That number does not include instances of distracted driving that did not involve cellphone use.

However, the penalties for distracted driving are much less severe when compared with DUI. A ticket for using a cellphone while driving carries a fine of $20 for the first offense, but the total cost will amount to $100 or more with fees and penalty assessments. Other distracted driving citations carry fines of up to $1,000.

A first-time DUI conviction in California carries a sentence of up to six months in county jail and fines of up to $1,000. In addition, you will likely be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle at your own cost if you are convicted of DUI.

Contact the Skilled DUI Defense Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich Today

If you or a loved one has been accused of violating the California vehicle code, you should speak with an experienced DUI defense attorney at Wallin & Klarich. Our skilled lawyers have been successfully representing clients in criminal and traffic matters for more than 35 years. Let us help you now.

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, you can find an experienced Wallin & Klarich DUI defense attorney available near you no matter where you are located.

Call our office today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.

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