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Hands-Free Cell Phone Law Goes Into Effect
By Ray Yono :: Monday, June 30, 2008 :: 18001 Views :: Article Rating :: Law & Order

California, USA - Chaldeans in California prepare as new hands-free cell phone law goes into effect tomorrow.  “Anyone over 18 using a handheld cell phone while driving is going to get stopped and ticketed,” says Jason Shunia, manager of World Wireless in San Diego.

Violations result in a first-offense fine of $97 in San Diego County and $211 for a second offense.  The new state law requires adult drivers to use an earpiece, headset or speaker with their cell phones; drivers younger than 18 are not allowed to use any wireless devices – for speaking or text messaging. All drivers in California, even from other states and countries, are expected to comply.

Chaldean wireless businesses are doing their part in helping to educate consumers.  “We are passing out fliers about the new law and offering customers upgrades or earpiece options,” says Shunia.  “We want to help keep our customers safe and free from paying unnecessary fines.”

The California Highway Patrol said that statewide last year, 1,091 crashes with 447 injuries were blamed on drivers using cell phones.

Under new state Vehicle Code sections 23123 and 23124 that go into effect tomorrow:

 Adults drivers 18 and older may not use a handheld, wireless telephone without a hands-free device.

 Drivers younger than 18 may not use any wireless phone, even with a hands-free device. They also may not use pagers, two-way messaging devices, mobile radios or broadband personal communication devices.

 An exception allows adult and juvenile drivers to make emergency calls for police, fire or medical assistance on a wireless phone.

 The law does not apply to passengers. It does apply to drivers from other states where hands-free devices are not required.

 Drivers can be pulled over and given a ticket solely for using a wireless phone without a hands-free device.

 Violations result in a first-offense fine of $97 in San Diego County and $211 for a second offense.

 The Department of Motor Vehicles will record violations but not add points to a driver's record.

 Emergency service professionals are exempted from the law.

Two-way radios operated by a push-to-talk feature may be used by drivers of commercial trucks, farm vehicles and tow trucks.

 The DMV notes that other adult drivers may use a push-to-talk feature attached to a hands-free earpiece or other hands-free device.

Chaldeans have noted that different cities within their county are handling things differently.  Police in San Diego and Oceanside plan a month long grace period before they start strictly enforcing the law.  Oceanside police Sgt. Kelan Poorman said his agency favors education over enforcement at first. However, he said, officers will be allowed to write a ticket if they feel a warning isn't sufficient to drive home the message.

Other agencies around the county don't see the need for delayed enforcement.

The Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol and police in Carlsbad, Escondido, La Mesa, El Cajon, Chula Vista and National City expect to enforce the law immediately. Campus police spokesmen at San Diego State University and the University of California San Diego said the same, as did the San Diego Harbor Police.

The new state law requires adult drivers to use an earpiece, headset or speaker with their cell phones; drivers younger than 18 are not allowed to use any wireless devices – for speaking or text messaging. All drivers in California, even from other states and countries, are expected to comply.

Emergency vehicle drivers are exempted from the hands-free rules. Some police agencies, such as El Cajon, Oceanside and the CHP, plan to take advantage of that exemption. Carlsbad and San Diego prefer to set an example.  “We'll encourage our officers not to use their phones while they're driving,” San Diego police spokeswoman Muñoz told the press.