What is California Assembly Bill 47 (AB 47) and How Will it Impact Drivers?

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What is California Assembly Bill 47 (AB 47) and How Will it Impact Drivers?

What is California Assembly Bill 47 (AB 47) and How Will it Impact Drivers?

May 3, 2021

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently released data compiled through its annual Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Of the 33,244 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States in 2019, 36,096 deaths occurred. That equates to 11.0 deaths per 100,000 people, and 1.11 deaths per 100 million miles traveled for Americans. California holds the dubious honor of having the most fatal car accidents for 2019, with 3,316. Texas came in a close second at 3,294.

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, California’s roads and highways can be dangerous even the most experienced drivers. 2020 proved to actually result in more traffic fatalities for the Golden State, with a reported 3,723. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Californians were reported to have regularly practiced unsafe habits such as excessive speeding or other forms of reckless driving on roads and streets, perhaps due to the unusually low amounts of traffic as a result of mandated statewide lockdowns.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides a number of recommendations for safe driving related to a driver’s speed. Some of these include:

  • ◉ According to California’s “Basic Speed Law,” you may never drive faster than is safe for current conditions.

  • ◉ Regardless of the posted speed limit on any street, road, or freeway, your speed should depend on:

    • The number and speed of other vehicles on the road.
    • Whether the road surface is smooth, rough, graveled, wet, dry, wide, or narrow.
    • Whether bicyclists or pedestrians are on or crossing the roadway.
    • Whether the driving conditions include rain, fog, snow, high winds, or dust.
  • ◉ Unless otherwise posted, the maximum speed limit is always 55 mph on a two-lane undivided highway for both general motor vehicles (cars, motorcycles, mopeds, scooters) and towing trailers.

  • New California AB 47 Law Addresses Use of Electronic Devices While Driving

    Under current California law, a driver is prohibited from operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless phone without hands-free listening capability. Technically, if you prefer a “dumb phone” without Bluetooth capability over an iPhone, Android, or other smartphone model, California law stipulates that you may not use it while operating a motor vehicle.

    Only phones “specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking” are lawful to use while driving. Additionally, existing law prohibits anyone from driving while holding and operating a handheld wireless phone (or any type of electronic wireless communications device) unless the telephone or device is specifically designed and configured to allow “voice-operated and hands-free operation,” and is used in that manner while operating a motor vehicle. In other words, any type of phone – smart, dumb, or otherwise – may not be used to text, read, scroll through social media, etc. while driving. “Any type of electronic device” is broad terminology, meaning the only legal way to use an electronic device while driving, at least in the state of California, is by having a conversation via a hands-free device. That means taking pictures, using the flashlight function, or checking your email while driving is illegal. And if you’re a kid, the rules are even more stringent.

    For drivers 18 years of age or younger, any use of an electronic device while driving is technically illegal

    For drivers 18 years of age or younger, any use of an electronic device while driving is technically illegal. Californians 18 or younger are officially prohibited from driving while using a wireless telephone or any “electronic wireless communications device,” even if it is equipped with hands-free capability. And if you get caught breaking these laws, there are consequences that may be applied to your driving record.

    According to current California law, specified convictions and violations under the Vehicle Code, as well as any traffic-related incidents, may count as points against a driver’s record. Speeding, rolling through a stop sign, rear-ending another vehicle, and various other driving infractions can result in a “violation point.” After a certain number of points on a driving record, a driver’s license may be suspended or even revoked. But current law regarding points towards suspension or revocation of the privilege to drive does not include hands-free violations. As of July, however, that changes.

    Schedule an appointment online for a free consultation today, or call us directly to speak to our top-rated, expert car accident attorneys.

    Beginning July 1, 2021, Assembly Bill 47 (AB 47) stipulates that a repeat electronic device violation occurring within 36 months of the last infraction is now subject to a violation point against a driver’s record. This means that any repeat hands-free device offense – whether failing to use an earpiece, operating a non-smart phone, or any electronic device use by an underage driver – could result in a violation point if it occurs within that 36-month window. And that violation point can then be applied to a driver’s record. Furthermore, after enough points, electronic device violators could have their licenses suspended or revoked just like drivers who speed or make unsafe lane changes.

    The objective of AB 47 is to codify hands-free violations into the Vehicle Code and crack down on repeat ‘distracted driving‘ offenders. The bill was introduced in December 2018, and approved by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 8, 2019. AB 47 officially becomes law on July 1, 2021.

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    Get the DLG Advantage After an Untimely Car Accident

    While California continues to make efforts to keep our roads and streets safe, car accidents can happen at any time, even to the most cautious and experienced drivers. When a car accident occurs, turn to Dordulian Law Group for the best legal representation in California. We’ll help you recover the compensation you deserve for things like medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, or emotional trauma. At DLG, our experienced team of attorneys never settles for less than a maximum financial damages award for a car accident claim.

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