California Hand-Held Ban Effective July 1, 2008
Keep Those Hands Where We Can See Them
July 1, 2008, marked the first day that multi-tasking Californians would be required by law to complement their hand-held phones with a safer and less distracting form of wireless communication. Two major laws went into effect: the first states that all drivers must now use hands-free devices while operating their moving vehicles, and the second prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using any device—hand-held or hands-free—while driving. As far as text messaging is concerned, California’s law states that, as of January 1, 2009, all drivers are forbidden to text message while behind the wheel. If caught on a hand-held phone, violators will face a monetary fine only—$50 for the first offense and $100 for subsequent convictions—so make sure to purchase one of the many new and even fashion-forward hands-free devices.
The law is slowly becoming a nationwide trend, as 8 other U.S. states including Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Utah and Washington have also implemented a jurisdiction-wide ban on hand-held phones. The District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands are on board as well. Localities are permitted to ban cellular phone use in Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The majority of those enforcing the hand-held ban have also restricted the use of text messaging, although the laws vary from state to state. As of 2010, 30 states have implemented bans on text messaging, along with D.C. and Guam. Even states without the hand-held ban are limiting text message use for drivers under 18, school bus drivers and drivers with learner’s permits, with an overall goal of keeping drivers focused on nothing but the road.