Is It Illegal to Text at a Red Light?

Man texting at a red light.
  • Dec 16 2019

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!

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