Texting While Driving

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!

Newly Proposed CA Law Could Increase Penalties for Texting While Driving

In a classic case of “legislative creep,” the California legislature is about to make cell telephone and texting and driving violations result in a point on your driver’s license.  Back in 2005-2006, when California’s “hands-free” law was enacted, the politicians sold it to the public by saying to the effect of, “Well it is not a point violation, so it is like a parking ticket. Just pay the fine and it is finished.”

Fast forward through 12 years of insurance industry lobbying and here comes California Assembly Bill 47 (AB 47).

This newly proposed state law could have a much bigger impact on offenders, affecting someone’s driving record for quite a few years. And the auto insurance industry could not be happier.

The Impact of Assembly Bill 47

The proposed law, Assembly Bill 47, which is sponsored by Rep. Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay), would place a point to a violator’s driving record for texting while driving. Current driving offenses that carry the same penalty include running a red light or a stop sign, causing an accident, and speeding. Points generally stay on an individual’s driving record for a period of three years.

Points can also have a large impact on an individual’s car insurance premium. Though it depends on a case-by-case basis, insurance companies tend to view tickets as an indication that you are a riskier driver. In populous areas of California, you will pay up to $600 more per vehicle per year for every two points and you will pay $300 more per vehicle per year for every point on your driving record. This could end up being quite costly in the long-run.

The proposed harsher penalty is already garnering support from individuals in law enforcement, who believe that the current laws in place have not served to deter the general population from continuing to engage in risky behavior.  Of course, the California legislature specifically exempted California peace officers from the cell/texting laws.

According to the NHTSA, sending or reading a text takes an individual’s eyes off of the road for five seconds. If a car is going at a speed of 55mph, this equates to driving the entire length of a football field without looking. The latest California state transportation data shows that in 2013 alone, more than 422,000 citations were issued to motorists for texting while driving.

If the law successfully passes, it will take effect beginning in 2021.

Cheap Traffic Attorneys Can Help Those with Texting and Driving Violations

If you or a loved one has received a ticket for a driving offense, including texting while driving, it can majorly impact your life for a long period of time. In fact, if you receive four points within a rolling 12-month period, you will receive an automatic six-month license suspension. That is why it is so important to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced traffic ticket attorney who understands all about police and traffic court operations.

As a former police officer, Mr. Pearson may save you time and money by contesting a traffic ticket in order to avoid increased points or insurance premiums. Lowering a ticket violation when permitted by jurisdiction can make a big difference. To learn more about traffic violations and to schedule a consultation, visit us online or call us at 310-945-5655 today!