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Sunday, May 10, 2015

CB Radios and the California "Hands-Free" Law

Above, a Cobra HH Roadtrip hand-held CB radio.

Recently, I purchased a handheld CB radio (pictured above) for use in the motorhome while on trips. The purpose of the radio is to monitor road conditions, weather reports and just entertainment (listening to the chatter by other motorists).

California enacted a "hand-free" law that mandates that cell phone usage must be hand-free (using Bluetooth or other devices while using a cell phone while driving).

This questions occurred to me: Does the "hands-free" law also apply to CB radio use?

According to the California Vehicle Code, it does not.

Here's the California Vehicle Code section on cell phone use:

(a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.
(b) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of twenty dollars ($20) for a first offense and fifty dollars ($50) for each subsequent offense.
(c) This section does not apply to a person using a wireless telephone for emergency purposes, including, but not limited to, an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or other emergency services agency or entity.
(d) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using a wireless telephone while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.
(e) This section does not apply to a person driving a schoolbus or transit vehicle that is subject to Section 23125.
(f) This section does not apply to a person while driving a motor vehicle on private property.
(g) This section shall become operative on July 1, 2011.
To further buttress the point, the California Highway Patrol said this in response to a query:
 "After doing some research, and reviewing sections 23123 (a): (Hand-Held Wireless Telephone), and 23123.5(a): (Electronic Wireless Communications Device), of the California Vehicle code, I was unable to locate anything within those sections that would require the use of an Amateur Radio device to be hands free. The above referenced sections specifically reference the use of hand-held wireless telephones and their prohibited use while operating a motor vehicle.  
If a Law Enforcement Officer in reference to the above section, observes a driver operating a motor vehicle in an unsafe manner while utilizing an Amateur Radio device, the driver may be stopped and issued a citation in accordance with 22350 CVC."
In an nutshell, non-hand-free cell phone use is not okay, non-hands-free CB radio use is okay in California. Just do it safely.  

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