Protect Your Driving Privileges Fight Your Ticket With Bigger & Harman Today

undefinedThe DOT FMCSA makes illegal cell phone use a serious offense. Therefore, since the enactment of AB-47, Distracted Driving, which authorizes the CA DMV to assess 1.5 negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points for a second conviction or paid fine for illegal cell phone use, it could mean an automatic 60-day driver disqualification for a commercial driver.

Serious offenses require a minimum disqualification of 60 days and include the following: Speeding excessively (15 mph or more over the speed limit). Driving recklessly. Making improper or erratic traffic lane changes. Following the vehicle ahead too closely. Violating laws relating to prohibiting texting or using a handheld mobile telephone while driving a CMV.

The disqualification period of a driver is determined by the offense and the driver’s record of prior convictions.” — 49 CFR Part 383.51, Paragraph 6.2.5Disqualification of Drivers.

This blog post will examine the improper use of a cell phone in a commercial motor vehicle (CMV), how to prevent a ticket, the consequences in CA of a conviction or paid fine, and the actions the FMCSA will take for a second conviction of a serious offense. 

Illegal Cell Phone Use in CA     

CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 23123.5Driving Offenses, prohibits the use of a handheld device:

“(a) 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.”

That traffic code section means drivers must be off the road and parked to use their handheld communication devices.

However, there are provisions within the code to use a cell phone as part of the built-in communication system or electronic logging device (ELD). Likewise, the cell phone can be mounted on the dashboard or similar location within easy reach of the driver to operate it with a single finger swipe.

“(1) The handheld wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield in the same manner a portable Global Positioning System (GPS) is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console in a manner that does not hinder the driver’s view of the road.

(2) The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the handheld wireless telephone or wireless communications device with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger.” — CVC Section 23123.5, Driving Offenses.

The most logical method for truckers is to use the communications system in their ELD.

Many drivers have been charged with illegal cell phone use or no seat belt use violations when they pull into the weight station, and the inspector viewed them putting on their seat belts or putting down their phones. These charges are difficult to dispute when caught on video camera with a date/time stamp.

However, commercial drivers should always consult a traffic attorney before paying the fine or disputing the illegal cell phone use ticket in court without a CA traffic attorney.

Either conviction record will be reported by the CA DMV to the FMCSA and filed in the driver’s pre-employment screening program (PSP) record.   

Even though the fine for a first-time violation is only about $150 and a second $260, it might be easier to dispute the first in court than the second, which could lead to a 60-day driver disqualification.

Consult Bigger & Harman, APC, About the Serious Offense of Illegal Cell Phone Use in a Commercial Vehicle 

When facing an illegal cell phone use ticket in Fresno County Courthouse, call Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300. Likewise, you could use our handy contact form or email

Download our e-book, Protecting Your Commercial Driver License.

Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.


The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.

CA AB-47Distracted Driving & CVC Section 23123.5Cell Phone Use.

The DOT FMCSA 49 CFR Part 383.51, Paragraph 6.2.5Disqualification of Drivers.

Share To: