Though my accident and injury law practice is in Atlanta, Georgia, I recently spent ten days in southern California, where I saw the heavy marketing for hands-free devices for cell phone due to the new law that went into effect on July 1. In California, it is now against the law to drive a vehicle using a handheld cell phone, or for drivers under 18 to use a cell phone at all while driving. There are exceptions for emergencies, including calling public safety agencies or health-care providers.
One young driver when asked by the San Jose Mercury News if she would comply with the new law, responded, "Of course not. I’ll just drop my phone into my lap when a cop drives by."
The fine is $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent convictions. With additional fees, the total fines will cost $75 for a first-time violation and $175 each for subsequent offenses.
A recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California that estimated the hands-free provision could save up to 900 lives per year in California.
A California Highway Patrol spokesman said that said drivers who don’t have hands-free devices should not pull over on the freeway shoulder to place or receive calls or text messages. Rather, he said motorists should exit the freeway and park where appropriate. The CHP also discourages citizens from calling 911 to report other motorists holding their cell phones while driving because it will tie up phone lines for emergencies.
The Shigley Law Firm represents plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases statewide in Georgia. Recently elected Secretary of the State Bar of Georgia, Ken Shigley has been as a "SuperLawyer" in Atlanta Magazine and one of the "Legal Elite" in Georgia Trend Magazine. A former chair of both the Southeastern Motor Carrier Liability Institute and the Georgia Insurance Law Institute, he is a Certified Civil Trial Advocate of the National Board of Trial Advocacy . He focuses on cases arising from truck wrecks and accidents (tractor trailers truck wrecks, bus wrecks, semi truck wrecks,18 wheeler truck wrecks, big rig truck wrecks, log truck wrecks, dump truck wrecks.