Truthfully, we used to advise commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers to pay the fine for a cell phone ticket and keep driving. Now, in Yolo County, CA, or anywhere in California, your second cell phone ticket conviction or paid fine will result in the DMV assessing 1.5 negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points.
Although this new amendment, AB-47, Daly. Driver records: points: distracted driving, to CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23123.5, Driving Offenses, doesn’t go into effect until 1 July 2021, if you already had a cell phone ticket within the last three years, you could be at risk of violating the FMCSA serious offense regulation and subject to a 60-day driver disqualification.
CVC 23123.5 is CA’s distracted driving law, which does not allow drivers even to hold a cell phone in their hand while driving. Even when you are stuck in traffic or sitting at a red light, do not reach for the phone to call home.
Do yourself a favor and get one mounted or use the cell phone feature in your electronic logging device (ELD), and have it hooked up to your system, so all you have to do is press one button, or say, “ELD, phone home.” But seriously, you can hook it up to your system and make it voice-activated.
A Cell Phone Ticket Conviction in a CMV Is a Serious Offense
What that means to a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder is that the DMV will send a notification to the DOT FMCSA Safety Measurement System (SMS). According to the FMCSA Mobile Phone Restrictions Fact Sheet, that is a “serious offense.”
If you have not taken the time to read that fact sheet, and you are a CDL holder, you should read it now. We will only hit a few highlights.
First, although the fine in CA is only about $150 for a first offense or $256 for a second, the penalty from the DOT FMCSA is $2,750. The wording is clear, “This rulemaking restricts a CMV driver from holding a mobile device to make a call or dialing by pressing more than a single button. CMV drivers who use a mobile phone while driving can only use a hands-free phone located in close proximity.” How the FMSCA would enforce this provision and collect the fine is in doubt. But it certainly is treated seriously on your federal record.
Another penalty, is the FMCSA will assess ten Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) points, and since it’s your second violation within three years, it could mean a time-weight multiple of two, so you can do the math and see that’s 20 points against you (as an owner-operator) or your fleet.
If that puts them over the 75-percentile mark, they will be looking at serious interventions from the FMCSA, and they might look at replacing you. Most will not wait for you to serve your 60-day driver disqualification anyway if we’re honest.
Times Have Changed & We Must Change with Them
California’s AB 47 set to take effect 1 July 2021 will give the DMV authority to assess one or 1.5 NOTS points for a second conviction of distracted driving violation under CVC 23123.5. However, drivers, particularly CMV drivers, should not wait for a second cell phone ticket to contest the charge in traffic court.
Suppose you let one ticket go by and just pay the fine, thinking you can fight the next. Not all tickets are winnable, and without consulting a traffic attorney, you won’t know which is and which is not. Always consult an attorney about your traffic ticket.
Traffic Attorneys Who Can Resolve Your Cell Phone Ticket in Yolo County, CA
When you get ticketed in Yolo County, CA, for a cell phone ticket, call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
No longer can you afford to chance the DMV will not notify the FMCSA about your distracted driving or cell phone ticket conviction. As you well know, the second conviction of a serious offense will result in a 60-day driver disqualification. Most of us cannot afford a two-month vacation without pay. Give us a call, and let’s discuss your traffic ticket.
The 2019 CA Commercial Driver Handbook.pdf
The DOT FMCSA Mobile Phone Restrictions Fact Sheet.PDF
CVC Section 23123.5, Driving OffensesAB-47, Daly. Driver records: points: distracted driving