In the blue corner we have a veteran fighter, the California traffic court system. Honestly, who has more career submissions than this guy? Thousands of officers all over the state issuing citations, an inefficient court system to administer the process, and GC services to bring the ground and pound once an fta occurs or the case is in collections. This is the kind of all out attack that turns your $200 cellphone ticket into a $1000 fine and a suspended license.
In the red corner, we have Siri, a young agressive fighter making a quick name for herself. She’s a virtual assistant who allows iphone users to do amazing things with voice commands on multiple iphone applications. Convenient? Hell yes Frustrating? At times Disturbing? You ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait a few more years and we will have a brave new world of virtual assistants with amazing features yet questionable privacy practices.
The battle is squaring off due to California VC 23123(a) which prohibits cell phone use while driving. This law didn’t even exist until recently. Over the span of about 10 years cellphones have gone from a rarity to a necessity. In the last few years phones have become much more than just telephones with texting, data, social networking, GPS, and now Siri. The law has been trying to keep up but is obviously playing catchup. The public safety risk is tremendous as distracted drivers are a giant problem on the road. Officers are generally motivated by the safety concern doing the best they can to prevent accidents on the road, but everyday new questions arise about where to dry the line in the sand for each individual case.
Thousands of people every day are getting issued citations for talking, texting, facebooking, twittering, youtubing, gpsing. and whatever the heck else the kids are doing on their iphones these days. Of those cited there is certainly a large percentage who feel the ticket they received was unjustified. Maybe they were on speaker, maybe they have bluetooth, maybe they weren’t talking on the phone but they dropped it and had to pick it up. Maybe they are just bitter they got caught. But for whatever reason, my law offices gets multiple calls a day from angry citizens wanting to fight this kind of ticket. I also see drivers representing themselves in traffic trials almost daily, and this issue is always one that brings heated debate.
LA Weekly staff writer and blogger supreme Dennis Romero just wrote an article on this topic here, and as he points out, most officers go by the motto that if you are touching your phone while driving, you are getting a ticket.
More guidelines will eventually come from court as the cases make their way through the system and at some point we may have appellate decisions or further legislative action to clarify what is legal and what is not when it comes to “using” your “phone” while driving. “Using” and “phones” are two words with rapidly evolving connotations and the law will struggle to keep up.
For now, the best advice I can give is to be safe on the road and if you are issued a citation simply sign it and move on, you can’t fight the ticket on the side of the road The next step is important, don’t get angry and ignore the citation! If you do that you have just made your situation significantly worse financially and for your driving and criminal record. Your instinct to fight the ticket is correct but do it properly. If you are going to do it yourself, start doing some research so you can make a wise decision about court appearances, bail, traffic school, and trial or trial by declaration., If you don’t have the time to learn a new trade give us a call and we can help you through it