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Stuck with an Illegal Cell Phone Use Ticket on I-80 in Truckee, CA? Here’s What to Do

undefinedBefore AB-47Distracted Driving, a cell phone use ticket did not seem like a big deal; many just paid the $150. After 1 July 2021, a second cell phone ticket conviction within three years of the first costs $260 and comes with 1.5 negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points.    

NOTE: Violations in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) are assessed 50% more NOTS points than in a non-commercial vehicle.

The real danger is the assessment of NOTS points, which means the DMV will notify the DOT FMCSA. Without an assessment of NOTS points, the illegal cell phone use ticket with a paid fine or conviction was the equivalent of a parking ticket or non-moving violation with only a fine for the penalty.  

What Is Illegal Cell Phone Use in California

What many novice truckers and bus drivers do not understand is that you don’t have to be using the phone to call or text under the revised CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23123.5Driving Offenses, prohibits using a hand-held communication device unless it is mounted or part of the vehicles communications system.

“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving.”

Further, the FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51Driver Disqualifications, makes a conviction for illegal cell phone use to text or call a serious offense. Under the CFR, a second conviction of a “serious offense” within three years of the first requires a driver disqualification of 60 days and a third, 120 days.   

Although the FMCSA Mobile Phone Use Fact Sheet states, “use of a hand-held mobile telephone means:

  • Using at least one hand to hold a mobile phone to make a call;
  • Dialing a mobile phone by pressing more than a single button; or
  • Reaching for a mobile phone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt.”

If you are convicted for a second time for illegal cell phone use in California such as holding a cell phone at a stop light or while stuck in traffic, the DMV will assess NOTS points and notify the FMCSA. Your only recourse is to hire a CA traffic attorney and challenge the illegal cell phone ticket in court.

How to Avoid a Second Illegal Cell Phone Use Conviction

CMV drivers should be aware that these rules apply even when temporarily stopped for traffic lights, traffic jams, and other delays. The vehicle must be off the roadway, with the vehicle in park to legally use a cell phone.

The rule applies to drivers operating a commercial motor vehicle on a roadway, including moving forward or temporarily stationary because of traffic, traffic control devices, or other momentary delays.

All drivers should consider getting their cell phone mounting within easy reach of the driver so that they can call or text using just the swipe of a finger and use artificial intelligence (AI) to complete their call or text.

Likewise, many Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) now come equipped with automatic dialing and texts to transfer logs to law enforcement and fleet headquarters. This will minimize the automatic reflection of reaching for your cell phone. That same phone app can be used for personal calls. 

For more information about illegal cell phone use and AB-47, read the Bigger & Harman blog, California Drivers Begin to Feel the Bite of a Second Cell Phone Ticket under AB-47.

Contact Bigger & Harman, APC, to Resolve Traffic Tickets in Truckee Traffic Court

If you are ticketed for illegal cell phone use or another traffic ticket, and must appear in Truckee, CA, contact the office of Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300. Use our convenient online contact form, or send us an email. 

We have been serving commercial drivers for more than ten years and understand their unique needs. We know you can’t take time off to sit in court waiting for arraignment or trial. We can resolve your traffic concerns without your presence. Further, we offer a flat fee to get a resolution for you. 

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Email: attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com

References:

The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook Copyright 2022.

CVC Section 23123.5Driving Offenses & AB-47Distracted Driving.

The FMCSA CFR 49 Part 383.51Driver Disqualifications.

The FMCSA Mobile Phone Rule Fact Sheet.