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What are the Laws in California for Mobile Use in a Vehicle?

What are the Laws in California for Mobile Use in a Vehicle?

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Everyone I know has a mobile phone and they don’t hesitate to use it when they want to. Sometimes texts and other matters compel us to get on phones when we’re doing other things like eating dinner, using the bathroom and even driving. We do not advocate using a phone while driving, but we are hoping to clear up some of the confusion about mobile use while driving…

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers! We are not dispensing any legal advice here. We’re simply summarizing the latest research we’ve done on mobile laws in California…


According to, using a mobile phone while driving puts you at four times the risk of having a crash. This statistic should be enough to keep motorists from using mobile phones while driving, but it isn’t. It seems that motorists are not motivated to stop using their mobile phones and now other motorists are no longer the only ones to suffer. According to USA Today, cell phones have been linked to increase incidence of pedestrian injuries and hit and run accidents. To combat these issues, the state of California has now made it illegal to use cellular phones while driving. This law was put into effect July 1st 2008, however the texting law did not come into effect until January 1st 2009. If you aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of these laws, here are the most important things you should know.


Can you text while driving?

Nope, not even close to ok in the eyes of Johnny law. Not only has the state of California made it illegal to hold wireless devices in the car, it has also made it illegal to text or read text messages while driving. As stated above, this no texting law came into effect January 1st 2009. This law forbids reading or sending text messages from your vehicle.

The handheld wireless device law that took effect July 1st 2008, forbids drivers from using any handheld wireless device while operating a motor vehicle. If you’re under the age of 18,  this includes the use of hands free devices. If you’re over the age of 18 you can use speakerphone. All drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any wireless devices while on the road.

Can you use your phone in an emergency situation?

In an emergency situation where you need to call 911, law enforcement or emergency medical providers, you CAN use your wireless device. There are no restrictions here, so you can use it by hand or hands-free. I’m pretty sure fashion emergencies don’t count, fyi.

Fines and Convictions

For violating any of the above laws, the first offense is subject to a $20 fine; each subsequent conviction incurs a $50. If you rack up more than 3 convictions, you will be fined triple the amount. This means your fourth conviction may land you with a $150 fine. If you are convicted of breaking any of these laws, you will not gain a point on your licence, but the conviction will go on record according to the DMV.

It’s important to mention here that there is no law that prohibits drivers from entering a phone number either verbally or by hand. However, the DMV of California warns drivers against using wireless devices while in motion at all times. To keep you and other drivers or pedestrians safe, most expert governing bodies suggest avoiding your cell phone until you are safely pulled off of the road. Red lights don’t count!

Be safe this holiday season while using your mobile phone.