Governor of California signs law that severely restricts the use of mobile phones by drivers

If you live in California, and you are going to drive your car, you might as well leave your phone home. A new law was signed into power by Linda Ronstadt's ex-boyfriend, Governor Jerry Brown, that seriously restricts how a driver can use a smartphone while behind the wheel. Assembly Bill 1785 prevents drivers from "holding and operating" a mobile device while driving.

However, written into the law is one exception. A driver can use a mobile device if it is mounted on the windshield or the dashboard of the car, and is being used for a function that requires "the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger."

This past summer, California officials said that the number of crashes and injuries related to drivers' phone use is on the rise. This "distracted driving" is the reason why Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) introduced the bill. Even before the new law was signed, drivers were not allowed to call or text without a hands-free device. When that law was passed more than eight years ago, there was nothing written in it about navigation apps, which were not so widely available at the time.

The new law takes effect on January 1st, 2017. The first offense is punishable by a $20 fine, rising to $50 for every infraction afterwards.

source: ASMDC via SacBee, PhoneScoop



1. Junito

Posts: 144; Member since: Feb 12, 2012

For the most part, this is going to affect people with older vehicles. Most modern cars have BT built in, and come with CarPlay or Android auto support. If none apply, you can always by BT device on Amazon.

2. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

A 20 dollar fine?? Wow... if you get caught using or even holding your smartphone while driving, in my country, you'll be fined 250 dollars.

6. trojan_horse

Posts: 5868; Member since: May 06, 2016

For real, $20 - $50 fine is a joke. Heck, many people would not bother using their phones while driving, since most Americans can easily afford to pay up $20 if busted.

18. Sakeem

Posts: 857; Member since: Sep 05, 2012

In NY it's upwards to $300 and 5 points on your license. I beleive 11 points get your license suspended. Very soft "fine" here.

28. ZeroCide

Posts: 810; Member since: Jan 09, 2013

its 3 points in California to get your license suspended.

8. drunkenjay

Posts: 1657; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

Same. its up to $433aud here which is equivalent to 390usd and losing 3 demerit points(13 is maximum where you can lose your license).

22. Fellwalker

Posts: 535; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

Agreed. $20 isn't worth the prosecution paperwork. That's like a stern word. It isn't a punishment. The biggest problem I see is TV and film where the actors all hold phones while driving, which makes people think it is safe and the right thing to do. I can't believe that in America, the land of the lawyer, the cost of being sued hasn't stopped this practice. Are accidents and cases not reported?

25. iCloud

Posts: 125; Member since: May 15, 2014

I don't know how this works but currently it is $150 for the first time in California. I am assuming the actual ticket would be $20 plus court cost plus other fees etc. I would never think they would drop the price of a ticket.

3. lyndon420

Posts: 6737; Member since: Jul 11, 2012

We should be allowed to plaster someone's windshield with paint balls when ever we see them texting behind the wheel. I could easily get 3 or 4 of them on the way to work and double that going home.

4. Babadook

Posts: 230; Member since: May 24, 2016

I always found it weird that you are allowed to change the radio station, push buttons on the dash, or put in a CD or whatever to change music, but can't use your phone to do the same thing.

19. TerryTerius unregistered

Those are physical buttons. It is really easy to tell the volume knob by feel, or memorize were certain things are. That is far more difficult to do with a screen.

5. JesseJames

Posts: 226; Member since: Feb 22, 2015

There will always be distractions, the real issues here are idiot drivers.

7. AlikMalix unregistered

To be honest, The most distracting of talking on the phone while driving is looking for cops everywhere so you don't get pulled over - talking on the phone is the least distracting thing I can think of when you consider what you're allowed legally to do: work the radio, check navigation, roll or operate windows and climate controls. I believe that talking on the phone should be allowed. But texting, reading, playing games - NO!

20. TerryTerius unregistered

There have been a few different shows that have done this experiment, showing that talking on the phone is a lot more distracting than people actually realize and your attention is affectively being split even with that.

26. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Handsfree talking is allowed. Just not holding your phone at the same time, which I think is good. You need both hands to operate the car in certain situations (especially in my country where 90% of the cars are stick shift)

9. p51d007

Posts: 704; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Linda Ronstadt's ex-boyfriend WOW! I didn't think anyone on a tech blog was as old as I am! That's from back in the 70's ;)

16. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1318; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Well looks like I learned some new gossip today.

10. p51d007

Posts: 704; Member since: Nov 24, 2013

Wonder if this applies to law enforcement also? Just because they have a red light & siren, doesn't make them outside the law ;)

13. sissy246

Posts: 7078; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

No, they are special..... didn't you know that. I see cops on the phone all the time here even though it is against the law.

17. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1318; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

It does apply to them. You can go up to them and call them out on it so long as you're not rude or forceful. They are public servants out in public you can freely record them on video as well for evidence.

21. TerryTerius unregistered

Depends on the state you live in. Several states are moving towards banning you from videotaping police. Because I guess they want it to be as difficult as it is possible for you to ever prove a police officer did something wrong.

24. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

You serious? That's out right BS law IMO, any sources of where you learned about this? Please do share.

27. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Wow are you serious? I can't believe they can actually ban this.

23. ePoch270

Posts: 193; Member since: Sep 26, 2013

There is a specific provision in California law that exempts police from this.

11. drunkenjay

Posts: 1657; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

Increase the fines. Endangering human lives does not cost 20 dollars.

12. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

Should be a fine of $75-150 that doubles every following offense

14. sissy246

Posts: 7078; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

Agree at least that. With this being California I am shocked it's that low for a money hunger state like California.

15. Bernoulli

Posts: 4359; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

As an uber driver here's my two cents: the use of a car cradle is pretty standard, although not enforced by uber. It seems that California might have this as a requirement soon. Having gone from not using a cradle to using one is a massive gain in driver alertness. It's worth it even if you don't uber, get q a cradle.

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