Most of us are familiar with drunk driving and know that it’s something we should avoid. Few of us know about distracted driving. Distracted driving is exactly what it sounds like. If you’re ticketed for distracted driving, it means that rather than paying attention to the road, the bulk of your attention was focused on something else.
Most distracted driving tickets are issued because the driver was using their cell phone while driving, but you can be ticketed for getting in an argument with your passengers, trying to set your navigation system while your vehicle is in motion, or even trying to mop up coffee that you’ve spilled all over yourself.
Distracted driving became a thing when manufacturers started installing radios in cars and people started getting into accidents because they were changing the station rather than watching the road. Today, cell phones are the biggest source of distracted driving. Stats indicate that sending a short text while you’re behind the wheel means your 23 times more likely to get into an accident. Many of these distracted driving accidents end with someone getting hurt.
California drivers have been getting distracted driving tickets for several years, but now that 2021 has begun, those tickets are a much bigger issue.
California law refers to distracted driving as “anything that takes your eyes or mind off the road, or hands off the steering wheel – especially when texting or using your phone.”
The tweaks made to the distracted driving law in 2021 focus exclusively on anyone who is using their cell phone while they are behind the wheel.
The first time you’re caught using a cell phone while driving, you’ll be issued a ticket for $162. Any distracted driving tickets you collect after that first one will cost a whopping $285. If you get two or more tickets that are connected to using a cell phone while driving, the state will add a point to your license. Too many points and the state could suspend your driver’s license. If you’re in an accident or cause a moving violation while you’re driving, the police officer will likely write additional tickets. When all is said and done, deciding to answer a text message while you’re behind the wheel could destroy several months of careful budgeting.
At this point, you will only receive a distracted driving ticket if you are using your hands to operate your cell phone. Hands-free phone operation is still allowed.
Tougher distracted driving penalties are just one of the changes drivers will encounter during 2021.