Close up of a car dashboard with a smartphone mounted with GPS directions displayed

Is It Legal to Use a Cellphone While Driving in California?

You see it all the time—people going suspiciously slow or swerving in and out of their lane because they are using their mobile phones while driving. By now, most of us are aware of the dangers of distracted driving, but not everyone is aware of California’s cellphone driving laws. Here’s what you need to know:

California’s Cellphone Driving Laws

According to CA Vehicle Code (VC) 23123.5, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle while holding and using a mobile communication device unless it is specially crafted for voice-controlled and hands-free use, and it is used in that way while driving.

However, these rules do not apply to infotainment systems installed by the manufacturer that are permanently fixated in the vehicle.

Drivers may operate a cellphone using their hands while driving only if both of the following conditions exist:

  • The phone is mounted on the car’s windshield, dashboard, or center console in such a way that doesn’t interfere with the driver’s view of the road.
  • The driver uses their hand to turn a feature of the phone on or off, but it is only allowed if it can be done with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the finger.

Consequences for Cellphone Use While Driving

If a driver uses their phone while driving in a manner that is unlawful, they may face a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.

The Dangers of Using a Cellphone While Driving

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2019 alone, a total of 3,142 people lost their lives as a result of distracted drivers.

Texting is among the most dangerous distractions drivers face today. In order to send or read a text, you must look away from the road for at least five seconds. This may not sound like a long time, but if you’re traveling at a rate of 55 miles per hour (mph), taking your eyes off the road for five seconds is equivalent to driving the length of a whole football field without looking.

It is impossible to practice safe driving habits if you are not fully attentive to the road. Any activity you engage in while driving that is not related to operating the vehicle safely is potentially a distraction and increases your risk of getting into a car accident.

If a Negligent Driver Hurt You, We’re Here to Help

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident as a result of another driver’s negligence, you may be owed compensation to help cover your losses. Our team may be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve for enduring such a significant hardship through no fault of your own. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our office right away for more information about our legal services and what we offer to our clients.

Contact our office today by calling (310) 683-2300 or filling out the online contact form to discuss the details of your case and learn more about how we can help you.