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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Handheld Cell Phone Use Prohibited While Driving

Two months ago, I was cited in Orange County for using my cell phone while driving. I was written up for a violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23123 and given a court date on which to appear. This Vehicle Code Section went into effect on July 1, 2008.

This law prohibits the use of handheld cellular phones while driving. However, a handheld cellular phone can be used during an emergency, to call the police, fire department or other emergency services.

A violation of this section constitutes an infraction, which is a petty violation of the law and is less serious than a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars for a first offense and fifty dollars for each subsequent offense. However, with the addition of penalty assessments, the fines can be more than triple the base fine amount.

The conviction appears on one's DMV driving record; however, the violation is not added as a point and therefore does not affect insurance premiums.

Today was the court trial for my citation. After the officer's testimony and presentation of all the evidence, the judge ruled I was NOT GUILTY of the above offense. I was able to show the court that I was not talking while holding my Blackberry in my hand. I demonstrated how my phone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking through Bluetooth. The law specifically allows for the use of one's phone if it's through a hands-free medium. Therefore, I fit the exception and walked out with a NOT GUILTY!

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