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What is the fine for using a cell phone and driving in California?


The California Department of Motor Vehicles notes that the base fine for the FIRST offense is $20 and $50 for subsequent convictions. With the addition of penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount. We have heard from some drivers that have been caught talking on their cell phone without a hands free device who have said their fine has been $88 to $92.

So while the base fine of talking on your cell phone while driving in California may be $20 but as with most all tickets in CA there are additional costs added to the base fine amount. There are state and county fees typically as well as court costs to process the ticket and thus a ticket can easily be double or in as in this case 4 times the base fine amount.

It really depends upon the county in which you are issued the ticket as to how much the total amount will be. For example driving without seat belt also comes with a $20 fine but can end up costing anywhere from $75 to $95 usually once all fess and additional costs are added in. The court listed on the ticket should be able to give you a breakdown of the fees and costs over the base fine of $20 for a cell phone violation.

Ticket convictions stemming from these new "cell phone" laws are reportable offenses, so they will go on your CA driving record however, the CA DMV will not assign a violation point to your MVR.

As background information on this subject, California's wireless telephone laws took effect July 1, 2008. Talking on the cell phone without a hands free device has been found to be a distraction and cause of accidents so many states such as California and New York are putting laws in place in which drivers must now use a hands free device or pull over to speak on their mobile phone.

There were 2 wireless communication laws that went into effect in July 2008. The first law prohibits all drivers from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle, (California Vehicle Code [VC] 23123). Motorists 18 and over may use a "hands-free device." The second law prohibits drivers under the age of 18 from using a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle (VC 23124). These laws only apply to the person driving a motor vehicle.

Remember talking on your cell phone when it is prohibited is a primary offense and thus a law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction. The law does allow though a driver to use a wireless telephone to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency

There are also new laws regarding texting while driving going into effect soon in California. Starting January 1, 2009 a new law will go into effect where writing, sending, or reading a text-based communication while driving will be against the law for all drivers in California.

This new law applies to electronic wireless communications devices used to manually communicate with any person using text-based communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.

Violating this law is also punishable by a base fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. With the addition of penalty assessments, fines can be more than triple the base fine amount just as with the "cell phone" ticket.

You can get California car insurance from an auto insurance specialist by following this link.


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9 Responses to "What is the fine for using a cell phone and driving in California?"
  1. Anonymous

    Those of you that are complaining havent had a family member killed by someone too busy texting to pay attention to traffic. Any fine isnt high enough when it involved a life.

  2. Anonymous

    467.00 is how much my ticket was. first ever offence no priors. this was my first time getting in trouble with the law. this is in hanford, ca kings county... i dont even keep my phone near me in the car now.. all i did was answer phone said hold on and pulled over but cops here FIND things to write you up. town is small

  3. Anonymous

    It doesnt address whether traffic school is an option to get it off your record, if insurance is effected (as a reportable offense, it might), and the fees are way off, my ticket was $142 in Los Angeles County, issued by the LA County Sheriff.

  4. Anonymous

    the question is typically "will this cell phone ticket affect my insurance rates..." this article doesnt answer that.

  5. Anonymous

    Stupid law. I got a $147 ticket in Los Angeles county and this is my first offense. This is ridicules

  6. Anonymous

    I hate this Stupid Govt and Stupid a** laws. 150 bucks for a stupid cell phone ticket. I can understand the reason for a fine and such but lets be reasonable.

  7. Anonymous

    I was a first time offender for talking on my phone while driving without a head-set... I received my citation today and it is $151 dollars. I will never talk on my phone in the car again.

  8. Anonymous

    $141 - First Infraction (Placer County)

  9. Anonymous

    hate the popo