News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


Subject :

New Laws Restrict Cell Phone Usage
Contact : Sgt. Sandra Brown, Palo Alto Police Department    650-704-2930
Palo Alto, CA - The deadline for drivers in California to make the switch from hand-held wireless phones to hands-free devices is July 1, 2008. 

The law outlines the following prohibitions:

  • Persons under the age of 18 cannot drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or a mobile service device, including telephones equipped with a hands-free device. 
  • Persons 18 and older cannot drive a motor vehicle while using a hand-held cellular telephone unless that telephone permits hands-free operation. This means that drivers 18 and older can use their factory install hands-free car phone speaker systems, any Blue-tooth device or any ear piece device that is usually provided with the purchase of a new cell phone. Just be aware that covering both ears is prohibited.

There are the following exceptions:

  • Drivers of motor trucks, truck tractors, tow trucks or specified farm vehicles are allowed to use digital two-way radios which operate by depressing a push-to-talk feature. 
  • Operators of an authorized emergency vehicle during the course of employment are exempt, as are those motorists operating a vehicle on private property.

These exceptions apply until July 1, 2011. 

Violating these new laws is an infraction and each violator is subject to a base fine of $20 for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense. This offense will not assign an operator point to a driver found guilty of a cell phone usage violation.