Since California’s law prohibiting cell phone use while driving was amended last year with AB 1785, there has been some confusion about which devices towers are allowed to use while driving. The towing industry has worked with the CHP to help identify the parameters of Vehicle Code 23123.5. Accordingly, the CHP has notified their enforcement personnel, as well as updated their Highway Patrol Manual, about the following clarifications:
California’s cell phone law (Vehicle Code section 23123.5) prohibits the use of a wireless telephone or electronic wireless communications device while driving, unless:
The device is mounted to a windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not interfere with the driver’s view of the road, and;
The driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature with a single tap or swipe of the driver’s finger.
California’s cell phone law (Vehicle Code section 23123.5) applies to the following devices:
A handheld wireless telephone
A broadband personal communication device
A specialized mobile radio device
A handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access
A two-way messaging device
California’s cell phone law (Vehicle Code section 23123.5) does not apply to the following devices:
Manufacturer-installed systems which are “embedded in the vehicle”
A radio installed and mounted in a vehicle with a wired hand microphone (e.g. business band or citizen band [CB] radio)
As further history, California law prohibiting all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone originally went into effect on July 1, 2008. Originally the law provided an exception for those operating a commercial motor truck, including a tow truck, to use a two-way radio operated by a Push-to-Talk feature. However, that exemption expired effective July 1, 2011. The law was expanded effective January 1, 2009 to also make it an infraction to write, send, or read text-based communication on an electronic wireless communications device while driving. The law was further expanded effective January 1, 2017 to address the use of GPS and other apps while driving, by requiring that all handheld wireless telephones or electronic wireless communications devices be: 1) mounted; and 2) the driver’s hand is used to activate or deactivate a feature with a single tap or swipe of the driver’s finger.