State Updates Texting Laws

State Updates Texting Laws

An absent-minded student checks his texts, neglecting his driving responsibilities.

Cameron White, Online Editor

In July 2008, California passed a law prohibiting cell phone use while driving, and soon after, a law prohibiting texting while driving was passed.
Since these laws were passed, the functionality and versatility of the average smartphone has increased. Many smartphones like the iPhone 5 now include hands free communication tools and features that make texting while driving safer. In an effort to keep up with theses advances, California Vehicle Code 23123.5 has now been amended to allow use of cellphones’ handsfree features.

Despite these recent updates, though, it will still be illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to use a wireless communication device of any kind while driving, even if it has a hands free function.

The code now reads: “A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving.”

“I don’t think texting while driving is a good idea, but I can see why the law was amended,” senior Kelly Martin said. Martin, like most drivers at Miramonte, is still 17, so she won’t be able to make hands-free texts or phone calls while driving for another year.

The other parts of this law will remain the same. The penalty for disobeying this law will still be a $20 fee for first time offenders, and a subsequent fee of $50 for each additional violation.

Changes in the California Vehicle Code went into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.