Cell phone use is among the most common causes of car accidents in California. Studies have shown that texting, scrolling social media, reading emails, and even talking on the phone distract drivers’ minds from the task at hand, and of course, holding a phone takes at least one hand off of the wheel. According to data from the California Office of Traffic Safety, using a cell phone makes a driver three times more likely to cause a crash.
Due to the inherent risks of using a cell phone while driving, California has enacted laws that prohibit handheld cell phone use in the driver’s seat. California has also enacted a complete cell phone ban for drivers under 18 years of age. Using a cell phone while driving is considered a form of negligence under California law as well, and this means that those who suffer injuries and lose loved ones in distracted driving accidents can seek just compensation for their losses.
Experienced Bakersfield car accident attorney Mickey Fine has dedicated his career to helping accident victims get back on track. Following an injury caused by someone’s negligence, you may be facing high medical bills, time away from work, and uncertainty about your future and the wellbeing of your family. At the Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we will fight relentlessly on your behalf to pursue the maximum compensation you deserve for your injuries.
California’s Handheld Cell Phone Laws for Adult Drivers
The California legislature has enacted two cell phone laws that apply to adult drivers. These laws are California Vehicle Code Section 23123, and California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5.
- Section 23123 makes it illegal to talk on a handheld cell phone behind the wheel. It prohibits drivers from operating motor vehicles while using wireless telephones unless those phones have hands-free talking and listening capabilities and are used that way while driving. Anyone who violates 23123 by talking on a handheld phone while driving is subject to a $20 for a first-time offense, and a fine of $50 for all subsequent offenses.
- Section 23123.5 outlaws texting and other forms of handheld cell phone use while driving. The law prohibits people from driving vehicles while holding and operating their cell phones unless they have hands-free, voice-operated capabilities, and are used that way when driving. Section 23123.5 imposes the same fines as Section 23123.
Both of these laws provide exceptions for emergency personnel. Additionally, Section 23123 allows drivers to make handheld calls in emergency situations, and Section 23123.5 allows drivers to use single-swipe functionality if they appropriately mount their phones in their cars.
California’s Cell Phone Ban for Minor Drivers
While California law allows adults to make hands-free calls and use voice commands while driving, minors are prohibited from using their cell phones behind the wheel. Section 23124 of the California Vehicle Code makes it illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use a wireless telephone or other electronic wireless communications device while driving, even if the device is equipped with hands-free capability. The fines for violating Section 23124 are also the same as those for violating Section 23123.
Distracted Driving is Negligent Driving in California
In addition to being against the law, being distracted by a cell phone while driving is considered negligence in California. When you are injured in a car accident, proving negligence is one of the first steps toward securing a financial recovery.
When a driver violates a statute such as Section 23123, 23123.5, or 23124 of the California Vehicle Code, this is known as “negligence per se.” Basically, this means that violating the law is enough to prove negligence on its own. If you were injured by a distracted driver who was violating one of these laws at the time of your crash, your lawyer can use this when building your claim for just compensation.
However, even if the other driver was not violating one of California’s cell phone laws, you may still be able to pursue a claim for distracted driving. For example, if the other driver was distracted by a hands-free call or by reading a text message on a dash-mounted phone, this is still negligence—even though it is not specifically prohibited under California law. As a result, regardless of the circumstances involved in your crash, if you think the other driver may have been distracted, you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights.
Contact Bakersfield Cell Phone Accident Lawyer Mickey Fine
Were you or someone you love involved in a car accident involving cell phone use? If so, we strongly encourage you to speak with a car accident lawyer about your legal rights.