California Lawmakers Consider Adding DMV Point Penalties for Drivers Distracted by Cell Phones

Everyone agrees that driving while distracted is a bad thing. What everyone does not agree on, however, is how best to go about encouraging drivers to put down their cell phones while behind the wheel. Currently, the California legislature is considering a bill that would increase the penalties associated with texting or otherwise using a phone while driving. As California lawmakers explore upping these penalties, it is important to keep in mind just how damaging these infractions can be for you financially. If you find yourself needing to challenge this kind of violation, be sure you have skillful San Francisco traffic ticket and DMV defense counsel on your side.

CBS Sacramento reported that, on May 16, a legislative committee passed Assembly Bill 47. As originally written, the bill would have tacked a point onto the license of any driver ticketed for texting or holding a phone while driving. The bill, however, has already undergone some changes. As currently amended, the bill says that you get a point on your license if your cell phone violation is your second within a 36-month period.

Of course, the option of traffic school may exist for you. If you are eligible for traffic school, then you can use that process to avoid having that point tacked onto your license. For those eligible, this means that you would not have a point added to your license unless you rack up at least three texting-while-driving violations in that 36-month window.

Making sure that you know all of your options, and that you avoid having a point placed on your license whenever possible, can be very important for you financially. Even just one point may cause a significant spike in your auto insurance rates. Racking up four points in a 12-month period may lead the DMV to take away your driving privileges.

The peril of points is even worse for commercial drivers

For commercial drivers, whose lobbying advocacy groups fought for the amendment to AB 47, the danger of points is greater. Every one-point violation for a non-commercial driver results in 1.5 points on a commercial driver’s license. So, a mere three points in 12 months or four in 24 months can lead to a possible loss of driving privileges. So, you can see just how quickly points may leave you unable to drive which, for many people, means losing their ability to maintain a job and support themselves and their families.

So, what do you do if you’re not eligible for traffic school (or already used the traffic school option)? There are still ways you can avoid having that point assessed against you. One way is to fight in court. Perhaps the officer who ticketed you was mistaken, and you were not holding a cell phone while driving. Alternately, perhaps you were using your phone but were using it in a way that was consistent with one of the exceptions to the law. (For example, the prohibition doesn’t apply to people using their phones while on private property.)

If that’s your situation, you’ll likely need to challenge your ticket in court. The law requires the prosecution to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, but you still need a vigorous defense in order to give yourself the best chance of success. That means having a defense that is equipped with detailed knowledge of the law and the court’s procedural rules.

In other words, you need experienced counsel in your corner. The skilled San Francisco traffic ticket defense professionals at Uthman Law Office are here to help. Attorney David Uthman has over 20 years of experience as a litigation attorney and almost a decade of experience as a police officer. At the Uthman Law Office, we know how to get results for our clients and are ready to get to work for you. Call us today at (415) 556-9200 to schedule your FREE initial consultation.