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California Police Issue Cell Phone Tickets Despite Technical Law

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by copythis

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In The News

While California law says it’s illegal to use a cell or mobile phone without hands-free while driving, it’s not illegal to send or receive cell information that doesn’t involve another person according to Section 23123—in spite of the law’s specific wording, CHP says police officers can and will pull over and ticket California drivers, simply if officers see a cell phone being used at all. Burden of proof, regarding actual cell phone use and transmission, turns into a court visit to battle the ticket—and proof from the driver.

Technically under California law—under Division 11, Chapter 12, Article 1, Section 23123 of the 2010 Vehicle Code General Provisions and Division--it is illegal to use a cell phone “for listening and talking” unless the cell phone device is hands-free.

The 2008 law amendment of Section 23123.5 allows California drivers to read, select, or enter a telephone number—but as soon as that information is sent by cell, the cell phone use must then be hands-free once again. Wayne Ziese, a spokesperson for California Office of Traffic Safety, believes the rule extend to entering directions also--since the law does not explicitly prohibit any such act.

“It [the California law] doesn’t say you can’t enter in information [to the cell phone device]. It is only the act [under California law] of using a cell phone and or texting that is prohibited,” said Ziese.

There is a cell phone usage loophole in the state of California: the cell phone law does not reference holding the cell phone in your hand--if it is not for activities that include talking, listening, writing or sending text messages or video broadcasts.

Additionally, it is only illegal to read something on the cell phone that was for communication “with any person”. It is therefore legal to hold a cell phone in order to read map directions or even browse the internet--it only becomes illegal to use the cell phone, while driving, when you are interacting with another person.

But California drivers can’t assume CHP or police are acting in accordance with the cell phone law wording, when giving out tickets: Garrett, a CHP Public Information Officer, says California police officers can and will pull over and cite California drivers if officers simply see a cell phone being used at all.

“If a [cellular or mobile] phone is in your hands, we can’t tell if you are putting in an address or texting,” said Garrett, “you can still get stopped and cited [for a cell phone violation]—which then throws responsibility back to the ticketed driver, to prove any innocence. While the legal court system requires the Plaintiff, in any civil matter, to bear the burden of proof in responsibility, moving violations are a whole different matter.

Should you legally get a ticket for cell phone use that doesn’t involve another person? Technically, no—but plan on battling the citation in Court and offering up as much proof as you can get your hands on, including cell or mobile phone records: If a California driver plans to beat a cell phone ticket, the driver bears responsibility of contesting actual cell phone use that was occurring at the time of ticket issue by the police officer.


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After a grace period of

June 1, 2013 by rose blue, 9 years 3 weeks ago

rose blue's picture

After a grace period of warnings in the fall, the primary law went into effect Jan. 1, meaning officers could stop and ticket motorists for using their cellphones without other violations taking place. Three months later, authorities said some Southern Nevada drivers have not gotten the hint.
Case in point: A driver recently ran a red light in Las Vegas, causing a collision that killed him. The one unscathed item? A cellphone was in the victim’s hand.
“Clearly, it’s an indicator that people still haven’t gotten the message,” said Sgt. Todd Raybuck of Metro Police’s traffic bureau. “Distracted driving for any reason is dangerous.”
Metro’s traffic officers have ticketed about 2,300 people for using cellphones in the three months since the law went into effect, Raybuck said.
Sotechnical law must be clear to everyone!When we use expensive or cheap straight talk phones,we will be rest assured.

I might be too late to find

April 26, 2015 by Marie741 (not verified), 7 years 8 weeks ago

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I might be too late to find this article, but I am so glad to find it.
Nice explanation and well discuss .

Thanks for this useful information.I gained so much knowledge from it.
Thank you and God bless.

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Well discussed! I love this

June 24, 2015 by laarns (not verified), 7 years 3 days ago

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Well discussed! I love this article.
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it’s illegal to use a cell or

June 30, 2015 by makiem (not verified), 6 years 51 weeks ago

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it’s illegal to use a cell or mobile phone without hands-free while driving? but there are exemptions... whoa! that's confusing!

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