Effective January 1, 2009 – No Texting While Driving

In an effort to encourage drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, Gov. Schwarzenegger signed a law making it illegal to read or send text messages while driving in California.  This follows another recent cell phone restriction making it mandatory for motorists to use hands-free devices while driving.

The bill imposes a $20 fine for a first offense and $50 for repeat offenders “using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication,” which includes e-mails.

Enforcing this bill should prove challenging to officers on the road. Theoretically, just looking over at a PDA while driving could be interpreted as reading a text message and cause for a citation. If you see drivers frequently pulling over to the side of the street after January 1, 2009, with heads bowed down, you’ll know why.

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