California Drivers Required to Use Hands Free Devices

September 15, 2006
By Sandy Meyer Copyright Sandy Meyer

Sacramento, California – California Governor Schwarzenegger has signed
SB 1613 by Sen. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto) that would prohibit the use
of a cell phone in a moving vehicle unless the driver is using a hands
free device.

SB 1613 will:

  • Prohibit the use of cell phones by drivers unless the driver is
    using a hands-free device starting July 1, 2008.
  • Allow drivers of commercial vehicles to use push-to-talk phones
    until July 1, 2011.
  • Allow drivers to make emergency phone calls without using a
    hands-free device.
  • Allow drivers of emergency response vehicles to use cell phone
    without a hands-free device.
  • Prescribes that a conviction is punishable by a base fine of $20
    for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offenses.

Lobbyists for the bill included Verizon Wireless, the nation largest
wireless communications provider, law enforcement agencies and local
government agencies. All are projected to make a lot of money from the
passage of this bill.

Simitian and Verizon had attempted to get a bill on the use of hand
held cellular phones passed in 2003. They did not succeed.

Verizon also sells wireless phones with voice-activated dialing and
two-way speakerphone capabilities. The 2000 merger of Verizon, Bell
Atlantic and GTE created Verizon Communications.

Veriizon has also been active in lobbying for the enactment of similar
legislation in other states. States where Verizon lobbied in that have
enacted laws to require the use of hands free cell phone devices include
Illinois and Massachusetts in 2000, New York ($100. fine) in 2001,
Washington, D.C. and New Jersey in 2004, Connecticut in 2005.

In 2002 — Verizon Wireless began a partnership with the Georgia State
Patrol’s Safety Education Division to promote safer and more responsible
driving. The Atlanta Journal Constition reported that despite a lack of
evidence that hand-held phones are more dangerous on the road than
hands-free devices, or other distractions, the DeKalb County, Georgia,
enacted a fine of up to $500 for drivers who cause a wreck while talking
on cell phones.

The county enacted the new law despite a lack of evidence that
hand-held phones are more dangerous on the road than hands-free devices,
or other distractions, such as eating.

See law:

Source: http://www.ahrc.com

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