New distracted driving laws for 2017

Our Blog | January 10, 2017

It is now common knowledge that distracted driving is currently one of the single greatest hazards for people on public roads. While there are many things that distract people from focusing completely on the task of driving, research has shown that mobile device and smart phone usage is one of the most prevalent sources of distraction.

In response to this growing concern, many states have enacted laws and regulations limiting the legal uses of devices while operating a vehicle and California is one of those states. In a large number of states, the laws put into place are designed to prevent texting and driving in particular, but a new California law that has gone into effect with the New Year goes a step further.

Assembly Bill 1785

Originally signed into law on September 26, 2016, Assembly Bill No. 1785 specified exactly how Californians were legally allowed to use their phones while operating a vehicle. It stated that drivers could not use a wireless telephone or device “unless the wireless telephone or electronic communications device [was] specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation.” As of 2017, however, the bill was amended.

California drivers are now prohibited from even holding a phone while operating a vehicle. This makes the new law one of the strictest distracted driving laws in the country. If you are caught while violating this law, you will be subject to,

· A fine of $20 for the initial offense.

· A fine of $50 for each subsequent offense.

There is an exception to this law, however. Provided that the device is mounted to the vehicle, drivers are allowed to make a single swipe or tap on the screen. As of this year, that single swipe or tap is the limit of legal phone device usage while driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving was involved in over 3,400 deaths in 2015. With this in mind, the effort on the part of lawmakers to reduce the amount of casualties seems not only understandable, but reasonable. Even so, the implementation of these new laws will not completely remove the danger of distracted driving.

If you are involved in a vehicle accident caused by distracted driving or phone use, it is highly recommended that you seek out the services of an experienced and knowledgeable legal professional. They will be able to assist you in getting the justice you deserve.