Effective July 1, 2008, California joins Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, and some
local jurisdictions in prohibiting the use of handheld mobile phones while driving. The California Wireless
Telephone Automobile Safety Act prohibits the use of cell phones in moving vehicles unless the driver is using
a hands-free device. In addition, drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cellular phones while
operating a motor vehicle, even if equipped with a hands-free device.
In its findings, the California Legislature acknowledges that there are significant safety benefits associated with
the availability of wireless communication technologies, including providing assistance that helps saves lives
and minimizes property damage. In fact, on a daily basis, California drivers make thousands of emergency
911 calls from their cellular phones. The Legislature also found that there is a growing public concern
regarding the safety implications of the widespread practice of using handheld wireless telephones while
operating motor vehicles. Accordingly, the Legislature found it necessary to enact one uniform law that
establishes statewide safety guidelines for use of wireless telephones while operating a motor vehicle.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated in a press release on September 15, 2006 (after he signed SB 1613):
“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.”
(See full article for more information).