Senate Bill 1030 in California Penalizes Distracted Driving in 2018

California lawmakers are getting serious about distracted driving. The state Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 1030, which if it becomes law, would make using a cell phone while driving a moving violation causing a point to be added to a driver’s record.

Laws have been in place for banning the use of cell phones while driving in California since 2008. Currently, if you’re pulled over for distracted driving then it is only an infraction that does appear on your driving record, but no points are added. The violation also comes with a fine of $20 plus penalties for your first offense and each offense after that is $50 plus penalties. The penalties would remain the same under SB 1030, but points being added to your driving record means insurance rates can increase.

In addition to the law passed in 2008, stating that Californians are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving, the Wireless Communication Device Law was enacted in 2009. This law specifically bans texting; the writing, sending, and reading of texts. In 2017, came a law prohibiting the use of a mobile device for any reason when driving, including directions and music.

State Senator Josh Newman (D- Fullerton), the bill’s author, said, “Current penalties in California don’t go far enough to deter dangerous distracted driving behavior. Every year thousands of people statewide are seriously injured or killed in collisions caused by distracted driving. These collisions are 100 percent preventable. SB 1030 adds an additional deterrent to this dangerous behavior to prevent more senseless injuries and deaths.”

Drivers who are over 18 years of age are able to use a cell phone while driving as long as it’s voice-activated and operated, but using a cell phone at all while driving has proven to be very dangerous. Talking on the phone, even when using it hands-free, increases the chances of a car accident by 4 times, as reported by the Automobile Association of America (AAA). The odds of a crash increase from 2 to 8 times more likely if you are texting while driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 3,450 people were killed in 2016 due to distracted driving. Teens are especially at risk. In a press release from the California Highway Patrol, 10 percent of all drivers between the ages of 15 and 19 that were involved in fatal car accidents were reported as being distracted at the time.

The California Highway Patrol also reports that there were over 50,000 violations given for handling a cell phone while driving in 2017. Furthermore, there were 47,364 violations cited for driving while holding and talking on a wireless phone.

The goal of this bill is similar to that when seatbelt laws went into effect. The violation of not wearing a seatbelt became a primary offense and the penalties increased, resulting in the number of violations decreasing. Lawmakers are anticipating that SB 1030 as new legislation will have a similar effect and provide a stronger deterrent to using a handheld device while driving.

Since the bill has passed through the Senate, it will now go to the California State Assembly before reaching Gov. Jerry Brown who can sign the bill into law.

If the bill does become law, then California will be among the seven other states that already have similar laws in place, which are New York, Colorado, Alabama, Vermont, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and District of Columbia.

If you or a loved one have been injured by an accident involving a distracted driver, our Sacramento car accident attorneys at Eric Ratinoff Law Corp can help. Call (916) 970-9100 for a free consultation or visit us on the web at