Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Bill Requiring Drivers To Use Hands-Free Cell Phone Devices Effective July 2008
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(Sept. 15, 2006) -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed SB 1613 by Sen. Joseph Simitian (D-Palo Alto) that would prohibit using a cell phone in a moving vehicle unless the driver is using a hands free device, effective July 1, 2008.
In a written release, Gov. Schwarzenegger said, ""The simple fact is it's dangerous to talk on your cell phone while driving. CHP data show that cell phones are the number one cause of distracted-driving accidents. So getting people's hands off their phones and onto their steering wheels is going to make a big difference in road safety. The 'Hands-Free' cell phone bill will save lives by making our roads safer. I want to thank Senator Simitian for authoring this bill and for his commitment to the safety of his fellow Californians."
The bill, which was supported by LB area lawmakers Senator Alan Lowenthal and Assemblymembers Jenny Oropeza and Betty Karnette, creates an infraction for driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, unless it is specifically
designed and configured to allow hands-free operation and is used in that manner. It imposes a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses.
The bill prohibits a "point" from being assessed n a person's driving record for violating the law. It takes efect July 1, 2008.
According to a state Senate legislative analysis, the CHP reported that "of 441,334 total collisions in 2004, the investigating officer cited the driver's cellular phone as a factor contributing to the collision in 931 of the collisions."
Opponents argued that the bill singled out one type of behavior -- holding a phone -- that could lead to inattentive driving. They also cited a study by the AAA's Foundation for Traffic Safety and the University of North Carolina found
that cell phones were only the eighth most common distraction. (Reaching and leaning was the most prevalent
The Assembly vote on final passage was:
SENATE FINAL PASSAGE
MEASURE: SB 1613
TOPIC: Vehicles: wireless telephones.
LOCATION: SEN. FLOOR
MOTION: Unfinished Business SB1613 Simitian
(AYES 21. NOES 16.) (PASS)
Aanestad Alquist Bowen Cedillo
Chesbro Dunn Escutia Figueroa
Florez Kehoe Lowenthal Migden
Ortiz Perata Romero Scott
Simitian Soto Speier Torlakson
Ackerman Alarcon Ashburn Battin
Cox Ducheny Dutton Hollingsworth
Kuehl Machado Maldonado McClintock
Morrow Murray Poochigian Runner
ABSENT, ABSTAINING, OR NOT VOTING
Denham Harman Margett
ASSEMBLY FINAL PASSAGE
LOCATION: ASM. FLOOR
MOTION: SB 1613 Simitian Senate Third Reading By Frommer
(AYES 50. NOES 28.) (PASS)
Baca Bass Berg Bermudez
Calderon Canciamilla Chan Chu
Cohn Coto Daucher De La Torre
Dymally Emmerson Evans Frommer
Garcia Goldberg Hancock Jerome Horton
Shirley Horton Jones Karnette Klehs
Laird Leno Levine Lieber
Lieu Liu Matthews Montanez
Mullin Nation Nava Negrete McLeod
Oropeza Parra Pavley Richman
Ridley-Thomas Ruskin Saldana Salinas
Torrico Umberg Vargas Wolk
Aghazarian Arambula Benoit Blakeslee
Bogh Chavez Cogdill DeVore
Haynes Houston Huff Keene
La Malfa La Suer Leslie Maze
McCarthy Mountjoy Nakanishi Niello
Plescia Sharon Runner Spitzer Strickland
Tran Villines Walters Wyland
ABSENT, ABSTAINING, OR NOT VOTING
The State of New York was the first to ban the use of had-held cell phones while driving with similar legislation in June 2001. Drivers there face fines of $100 for the first violation, $200 for the second and $500 thereafter. New Jersey and Washington, D.C. adopted similar laws that took effect on July 1, 2004. A 2005 Maryland law prohibits drivers ages 16-18 from using any cell phone while driving.
The CA law still allows drivers to make emergency calls without a hands-free device; drivers of emergency response vehicles are exempt; and commercial drivers can use push to talk phones until July 1, 2011.
Hands-free devices are relatively inexpensive and most new phones come with an earpiece.
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