California’s laws regarding cell phone use when it comes to distracted driving continue to broaden. Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Monday September 26th AB-1785 [authored by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward)]which increases the reach of existing legislation [SB-1613] in regards to just what you can do with your phone on the road. Previously state law banned drivers from talking or texting directly on the phone while driving. You had to go hands-free.
Under the new law, any activity on your cell phone [not hands-free] that is deemed interfering with driving itself will now be finable. This prohibits drivers from checking maps, adjusting playlists, checking social media, taking photos or live streaming on their phones unless a hands-free device is used. GPS apps are only allowed to be used if users mount their phone to their windshield like they would with a portable GPS device. The law would allow only for single swipe or tap use by the user, again if the device is mounted. The phone cannot block the driver’s view of the road. This law does not apply to already built-in devices that car manufacturers put in their vehicles.
If the law is violated, there is a base fee of $20 for the first offense and can go up to $50 for every additional offense plus penalties which can triple overall fine amounts.
The law still prohibits drivers from wearing headphones or any device that covers ears while driving. California lawmakers believe this will lessen distracted driving risks related to evolving technologies available in smart phones.
You can read more about AB-1785 here