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Making a Cell Call While Stopped in Traffic? You're Still Breaking the Law

Court rules that you're open to prosecution even if you're talking on the phone while sitting at a red light. How do you feel about that?

A motorist who uses a hand-held cell phone while stopped at a red light can be prosecuted for using a wireless phone while driving, according to a decision by a state appeals court in San Francisco on Monday.

How to you feel about that? Is being stopped still driving? Should we rid our motorways of anyone holding a cell phone, even if it’s turned off?

A three-judge Court of Appeal panel said a California law that prohibits the use of hand-held wireless phones while driving applies to situations in which a motorist has stopped briefly at a red light. The panel unanimously ruled that the definition of "driving" in the 2007 law includes being at the wheel during "fleeting pauses" in traffic on public streets.

Excluding such stops from the definition of driving would be contrary to the Legislature's intent and "would likely result in significant and numerous public safety hazards on public roadways throughout the state," the court wrote.

The panel upheld a $103 fine imposed on Carl Nelson in Contra Costa County Superior Court for using his hand-held cell phone when stopped at a red light in Richmond on the morning of Dec. 28, 2009.

Nelson argued in his appeal that a stop should not be legally defined as driving and that it is safe to use a cell phone when a car is stationary. But the appeals court said the Legislature "was generally concerned about the use of hand-held wireless telephones in motor vehicles on our public roadways and not just about such use when vehicles are in motion."

Share your thoughts with a comment below.

— Bay City News Service

Craig Belfor November 16, 2011 at 03:21 PM
It's simple- put on your earpiece and then you can punch all the numbers, BUT NOT LETTERS, you want. I had the first cell phone in the county in 1985, have 3 now, 4 earpieces, a mobile hot spot, a computer, and a printer in my glove compartment, I also invented the first hands free device, a sweat band, with the phone tucked into it. Using all of these is less dangerous than unwrapping a burrito while driving out 19th Ave.
John Lloyd November 16, 2011 at 04:23 PM
If you want to endanger your own life drive off a cliff but don't endanger mine by driving distracted whether it be putting on makeup or talking on a cellphone!
Thomas November 16, 2011 at 06:38 PM
What about cell phone based gps navigation services?? Does your phone have to be “docked” in some kind of holder? Or what?? This is really getting stupid. I wish people were just plain smarter in general.
David L November 16, 2011 at 07:26 PM
I think that if you see a drunk driver in front of you and want to report them, that qualifies as an emergency that justifies a phone call even while driving. A judge would be a moron to hold otherwise.
James Nikon July 31, 2012 at 08:53 AM
The law is for the good of the people. Let us follow whatever the law says, it is for our own safety anyway. Using wireless phones while driving is a risk. Lets preserve life by being a law abiding citizen.

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