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undefinedThe CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23123.5, Driving Offenses, and its stringent amendment AB-47 can make a second illegal cell phone use conviction very costly to your family budget.

CVC Section 23123.5 (a) warns:

“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while holding and operating a handheld wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device unless the wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and it is used in that manner while driving.”

While subparagraph (d) of that section of code adds:

“A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.”

AB-47, Distracted Driving authorizes the DMV to assess one negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) point:

“Existing law provides an exemption for the electronic device violations described above from being counted as points against a driver’s record for purposes of suspension or revocation of the privilege to drive. This bill would instead make only those electronic device violations that occur within 36 months, beginning July 1, 2021, of a prior conviction for the same offense subject to a violation point against the driver’s record.”

The wise thing to do is avoid a second conviction and NOTS points by never getting a first. This blog post will examine methods to prevent a cell phone ticket and what to do if you get cited.     

How to Prevent an Illegal Cell Phone Use Ticket

If you want to use your phone while driving, it must be hands-free.

That means you can use your voice to control it, and you don't have to use your hands, except maybe a quick tap or swipe. Keeping our hands on the wheel and our eyes on the road is vital.

Your phone should be a part of the car, truck, or van’s communication system or mounted so that it can be operated with a single finger swipe and within easy reach and sight, but it's not in the way of safe driving.

To prevent an illegal cell phone use ticket:

  • Go Hands-Free: Use voice commands to control your phone.
  • Proper Placement: Mount the phone on your dashboard or console.
  • Use Only a Single Finger Swipe: If you must touch it, keep it to a swift swipe.
  • Never Pick Up a Phone While Driving: You must be parked off the road.

To avoid a ticket for illegal cell phone use, use only hands-free communications, mount your phone where it can be used with a single finger swipe, and never pick it up or take it out of the mount — even at a red light or when stalled in traffic. 

Dispelling the Internet Myths of Illegal Cell Phone Use

Our first point is not necessarily a myth but is additional information not provided in CVC 23123.5 or AB-47. That code specifies a “…base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.”

However, the CA Assembly has authorized, and the Governor has approved ten assessments, surcharges, and penalties that the State and county can apply to the fine, making it nearly five times the “base fine.”

Typically, drivers pay $150 for the first and $260 for subsequent fines.  

Those fines will not normally cripple a family’s budget, so it might seem prudent to pay the fine and move on. However, a second or subsequent illegal cell phone use conviction or paid fine will result in the DMV assessing one NOTS point.

When your auto insurance provider discovers the paid fine, they will take away your “good driver’s discount of 20%,” making the average CA driver’s annual premium rise $458 annually from $2,290 to about $2,748.

But they’re not done yet. After taking your good driver’s discount, they will add the inherent risk that comes with an illegal cell phone use conviction, typically 10 to 12% or an additional $229 to $275 annually for the three years your conviction will reflect on your driving record.

Our second point refers to those internet outfits that “guarantee” a dismissal by writing a letter to the judge on your behalf. 

Some are genuine, with a licensed attorney working for them, and some get a dismissal. However, when they don’t, they might refund your fee, but you are locked into paying the fine and your auto insurance company’s increased premium for three years. 

That could cost you more than $687 annually or $2,061 during the 36 to 39 months until the DMV removes the conviction record.     

Your best option is to consult a Bakersfield traffic ticket defender with your first ticket. Some cell phone tickets are easier to defend than others, and only a knowledgeable and experienced traffic attorney can tell you which you have.   

Consult with Bigger & Harman When Ticketed for Illegal Cell Phone Use 

Call Bigger & Harman in Bakersfield at (661) 349-9300 when you need help with an illegal cell phone use ticket in Bakersfield Courthouse in Kern County, CA. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.

Likewise, you can use our easy-to-use contact form or email Please include a picture/image of your citation and a brief summary of the stop.


The CA Driver Handbook English y Español.

CVC Section 23123.5Driving Offenses.

AB-47Distracted Driving.

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