California to Drivers: ‘Don’t Touch that Phone’

By Jesse Sokolow on 6 January 2017
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LOS ANGELES—A California law that went into effect at the beginning of this year bars drivers from holding and operating a handheld electronic device while driving a vehicle, and it is one of the most stringent distracted-driving laws in the country.

Under Assembly Bill 1785, motorists are prohibited from using a device unless it is fixed to the dashboard or center console. If it is not, then the driver is allowed only to activate or deactivate a feature “with the motion of a single swipe or tap of the driver’s finger,” according to the bill.

A first distracted-driving ticket in California costs $161, while the fine will increase to $281 for a second violation.

“A ticket for $161 for texting or talking on a cell phone is a major distraction to your wallet,” the California Office of Traffic Safety said.

While the new law covers phone usage, the California Office of Traffic Safety also advises against eating and drinking while driving, as well as grooming and reading, and, perhaps most obviously, watching videos.  Under existing laws, drivers can be cited for distracted driving if doing any of these activities.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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