Please note that there are a few exceptions to 23123(a):
- You can make an emergency call to the fire department, law enforcement, a medical provider, or other emergency services professionals, even if you’re under 18.
- You can make a call if you’re emergency personnel operating an authorized emergency vehicle and over 18.
- You can talk on the phone while driving a motor vehicle on private property if you’re over 18.
- You can make calls on devices that are specifically designed for hands-free talking and listening if you’re over 18.
- While bus drivers over 18 can use hands-free, manufacturer-installed systems in the vehicle while driving, they can also use handheld devices that require their hands if both of the following conditions are met:
- The device is mounted on the windshield in the same way a GPS device is mounted, not obscuring the view of the road.
- The driver is able to activate or deactivate a feature with a single swipe or tap.
The cost of violating the above laws is $20 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. California’s fines apply to all drivers, both above and below the age of 18, including bus drivers. These fees are low compared to the laws for texting and driving in New York, where fines start at $50 and can go all the way up to $450.
The California Legislature doesn’t specify the number of points you’ll incur for violating these laws, but the judicial system website says that you’ll get points on your driving record with the DMV (again, not specifying a number). Of course, if you think you’re not guilty, you should seek legal advice from a traffic ticket lawyer to avoid paying a base fine for cell phone tickets.
How Fines Can Affect Insurance Costs
Once you pay the fine for your infraction, the case will be closed, but the violation will show up as points on your record for three to seven years.1 These points could affect the cost of your auto insurance.
To begin with, it’s hard to find cheap auto insurance in California. Auto insurance is expensive in California for a multitude of reasons, including population density, a high number of drivers, and the general cost of living. Violations for texting and driving will make your premiums even higher.
Learn more about the cost of auto insurance in California and how you can get auto insurance with a bad driving record. You can read our auto insurance frequently asked questions for even more information.