Gov. urges drivers not to talk and drive

June 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Governor Schwarzenegger is making the rounds statewide trying to make sure we all know about the new law that makes it illegal to talk on a handheld cell phone while you drive. The law takes effect July 1, 2008 and violators will start getting tickets immediately.

"We are absolutely convinced that when we tell people not to use cell phones, whether it is handheld or any other way, it will cut down on accidents," said CA Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Of course, the new law is a boon for retailers that sell hands-free phone devices.

It might not be safe to dial, talk, or text while driving, but it will still be technically legal come July 1st according to California Highway Patrol.

"So you could have a cell phone in your hand?" asks ABC7's Leslie Brinkley.
"Correct," said CHP Officer Sam Morgan.
"You could be texting, but you just can't be talking?" asks Brinkley. "You cannot have it up to the ear," said Officer Morgan. "The key giveaway of course is when the device, is open and being held up to the ear. Now that's a dead giveaway to an officer."

Police can stop adult drivers 18 and over for just having a phone to their ear after July 1st. So can you hear it now, the stampede that is, to buy wireless headsets, earphones, or car kits.

"Not only am I selling more headsets, but I'm selling more Bluetooth headsets and Bluetooth-type phones to make it easier," said Raed Abdallah, a Go Wireless Unlimited manager.

"A lot of folks are just wanting headsets. We do have almost all of our Verizon Wireless phones are speakerphone enabled, so that's another route customers can take," said Walid Achikzai, a Verizon store manager.

It's another expense $20 to $50 to be wired, up to $100 to go wireless, and $150 for a Bluetooth car kit. However, all these devices won't help younger drivers.

"For a driver under 18, they cannot operate a motor vehicle, irrespective of if it's hands-free or not. It's a secondary violation, so the officer cannot just stop you simply because they suspect you're using a cellular telephone," said Officer Morgan.

Still, adults can be stopped and fined $20 for the first offense, then $50 for subsequent offenses.

A cell phone violation may not count as a point to DMV, but it does go on your record as a moving violation and it remains to be seen if insurance companies will raise premiums for repeat cell phone offenders.


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