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Cellphone Use Reaches New High

Last year, 13 percent of drivers in Kern and Fresno Counties admit that they use their cellphones while they drive, eclipsing the high of 11 percent set only two years earlier.

Authorities believe it is no coincidence that the number of serious traffic wrecks has increased as well; in 2015, there were 11,000 injuries or fatalities on California roadways, and that number has increased steadily over the past three years. To stem the rising tide, peace officers wrote over 16,000 cellphone tickets during Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April 2016.

60 percent of California drivers say they have been involved in a cellphone use crash.

Cellphone Laws

As we approach the ten-year anniversary of the cellphone laws, there is a considerable amount of confusion as to what is, and what is not, legal. Part of the problem is that California has three different cellphone laws that prohibit:

  • Talking on a hand-held device while driving (VC 23123),
  • Sending or viewing text-based messages while driving (VC 23123.5), and
  • Drivers under 18 talking or texting while driving, even on hands-free devices (VC 23124).

There is another provision (VC 23125) that applies to school bus and transit drivers.

The Legislature passed these laws before the smartphone era really took off, and at that time, drivers basically couldn’t do anything other than talk or text on their phones. When law enforcement unilaterally expanded the cellphone laws to include viewing apps, surfing the web, and so on, a Fresno appeals court ruled that they only applied to talking and texting, and everything else was legal. The state chose not to appeal that decision, so it still stands.

Under current law, unless the prosecutor can prove that you were either talking or texting at the exact time listed on the citation, you have a valid defense. An attorney can use this defense to either get the citation thrown out or get the penalties substantially reduced.

Getting Legal Help

The aggressive attorneys at Bigger & Harman, APC, are committed to giving individuals a voice when dealing with speeding and traffic tickets. Call today at 661-349-9300 or email attorney@markbigger.com to receive the personal professional attention you deserve. En español, llame al 661-349-9755.