Is It Illegal to Text at a Red Light?

Man texting at a red light.

Is It Illegal to Text at a Red Light?

Our phones have become a big part of our daily lives. This is in large part due to the fast-paced technological landscape in which we live. Unfortunately, many people can’t put their phones down long enough to drive from one place to another. In fact, more than one in four car accidents involve at least one individual using their phone. From searching Google to sending a text message, the dangerous and illegal practice of texting while driving has become a pervasive epidemic of sorts. We know that it is illegal to text while driving, but is it illegal to text at a red light?

Texting at a Red Light in California

Since 2009, California has followed specific laws concerning texting and driving. The Wireless Communications Device Law says that it is illegal to read, write, or send text messages while behind the wheel. This law includes while at a red light – if you are the one behind the wheel. Additionally, the Handheld Wireless Telephone Laws, in effect since 2008, further clarifies that the only time that a driver may use a wireless phone while driving is if it is for emergency services. Although hands-free devices are allowed, the driver must be at least 18 years of age.

Many Traffic Judges wrongly put it this way:  If you are behind the steering wheel of a vehicle in a lane of traffic (that means not lawfully parked), then you may not have a cell telephone/mobile device in your hand.  Of course, the Vehicle Code requires the additional element that many Traffic Judges chose to ignore: the driver must be “operating the mobile device” for it to be a violation.  

It is also important to note that the use of Bluetooth or a similar earpiece while driving is legal in California, so long as you do not cover both of your ears; you are expected to be able to hear emergency vehicles or any other important sounds around you. Although push to talk features used to be considered acceptable, as of 2011 they are only considered to be legal if used in conjunction with a hands-free earpiece of another hands-free device. 

When someone fails to follow the law and is caught in the act, they will be faced with financial penalties. Although a first offense for using the phone while driving is just $20, subsequent offenses are a minimum of $50. When combined with penalty assessments, a driver can end up paying three times the base amount of the fine. 

Can I Fight My Traffic Ticket?

If you have been issued a ticket for texting while driving, the consequences can be quite severe. Not only could you face high fines and points on your license, but also you can ultimately even risk license suspension for your actions. A traffic ticket can impact your life in many different ways. If you are issued a ticket for texting while driving, it is imperative that you fight the charges in order to avoid the related consequences. 

The Cheap Traffic Attorneys Help Those in California Who Have Been Ticketed for Distracted Driving 

When arguing your case it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced California traffic ticket attorney who has helped other clients who have allegedly used their cell phone or texted while driving. 

The Cheap Traffic Attorneys have your best interest at heart and will work hard in an effort to get your ticket dismissed. To learn more about how we can help or to schedule a consultation, visit us online or contact us today!

Police officer pulling someone over for a traffic violation.

Study Finds There May Be More to Traffic Tickets Than Breaking the Law

Have you ever felt as though you were targeted for a ticket based upon how you look? If so, you may just be right. According to a study published in the March 2019 SAGE journal, it was determined that cities with a larger black population depend upon fines for revenue, fining residents more on a per capita basis. According to the study, which examined race, representation, and revenue, a one percent increase among the black population equated to a five percent increase in per capita revenue from fines, as well as a one percent increase in the share of total revenue. 

The study examined how these fines varied on the amount of crime and the level of public safety, budgetary stress, and racial composition of both the law enforcement agency and the population. Looking at a sample of 93 cities in California from 2009 to 2014, it was found that cities that appeared to rely the most on fines for revenue had among the highest number of black residents and a law enforcement presence whiter than its community. In fact, black drivers are 20 percent more likely to be ticketed when pulled over for speeding than white drivers.


One of the reasons for these findings has to do with traffic tickets and civil asset forfeiture, as these impact law enforcement behavior. In much of the same manner, government agencies that better represent the gender and racial makeup of their communities proved a decrease in the number of undesirable outcomes. 

Unfortunately, it is of little surprise that many studies have found minority residents and communities of color more regularly receive punishment for their actions than their white counterparts. Additionally, cities with a black population of at least 10 percent that were served by a disproportionately whiter law enforcement presence rely 60 percent more on fines as a source of revenue. 

Policing for Profit

One option for decreasing these negative findings is to eliminate the incentives currently in existence for law enforcement to bring in ticketing revenue. This situation, commonly referred to as “policing for profit,” takes the money made from these tickets and puts it back into the budget of law enforcement. Additionally, other things that can be considered to help the situation include taking state money and redistributing it locally, or electing more people of color and more ethnic minorities into important positions. 

It is extremely important to clarify that this does not mean that all law enforcement is racist. This is certainly not the case. However, what it does mean is that the data proves a correlation between race and traffic ticketing. 

The Cheap Traffic Attorneys Help Those in California Who Have Been Issued a Traffic Ticket

The Cheap Traffic Attorneys’ skilled Traffic Ticket Attorneys have the knowledge and experience to help individuals dealing with a criminal traffic violation. If you believe that you have been issued a ticket on the basis of race or another protected class, it is in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced traffic ticket attorney. The California traffic ticket attorneys at Cheap Traffic Attorneys can help. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!