Law Offices of Gabriel H. Avina

Los Angeles Personal Injury and Criminal Defense Lawyers


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Honest Officer, I Was Engaging My Voice-operated Phone - The New Textlaw!

As many may have already heard, since January 1, 2013, the driving while texting law has been amended with a possible defense.

Now, I'm no fan of police officers pulling anyone over simply because they claim they saw a driver texting someone.  In my criminal defense experience, much too often police officers use texting as a pretext to pull someone over when they lack any other legal basis.

However, as an avid motorcyclist, my higher viewpoint than most vehicles allows me to see just how much of a problem texting has become.  Everyone is texting.  Kids, adults, seniors.  Everyone.  Lately, every ride I take involves honking at someone who is furiously texting away, only occasionally looking up at the road.  Scary stuff.

That's why unlike a lot of critics, I don't see the amended text law as such a problem.  Specifically, the amended law added no texting, "unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voiceoperated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving." Vehicle Code Sec. 23123.5

Will officers still stop you for texting?  Of course.  But now you have a defense.  Now when you exercise your rights to have a traffic trial, you can explain to the judge that you just ended a voice call and were not in fact texting.  Additionally, law enforcement can still cite and pull over the reckless text-attics who treat driving as incidental to their texting.  Overall, it etches a middle ground that leaves no one completely happy, but does try navigating the practical applications of contemporary technology.