California Prohibits Holding Cell Phone While Driving

cell phone dirving

Effective Sunday, January 1, 2017, it is against the law for motorists in California to hold a cell phone while on the road. The law is far-reaching, banning the holding of a cell phone for any purpose, from talking to texting to checking a map. Drivers may use cell phones when behind the wheel only if the phones are mounted on the dashboard of the car and are set up for hands-free operation. Motorists may also use factory-installed phone systems.

The law is not the first limitation on the use of cell phones by drivers in California—the first such law was on the books 10 years ago. Prior laws, however, dealt specifically with talking, texting, or using the internet while driving—the new statute seeks to prevent any use of a phone that may distract a driver from the road—playing music, taking pictures, or using social media.

California officials say the increase in motor vehicle accidents caused by distracted drivers was the major incentive behind the new law. A study conducted before the 2006 law likened talking on a cell phone while driving to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.