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AB-1646 Vehicles: electronic wireless communication devices: prohibitions.(2013-2014)

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AB1646:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  May 08, 2014

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2013–2014 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 1646


Introduced by Assembly Member Frazier
(Coauthor: Assembly Member Gatto)

February 11, 2014


An act to amend Sections 12804.9, 12810.3, 23123, 23123.5, and 23124 of the Vehicle Code, relating to vehicles.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1646, as amended, Frazier. Vehicles: electronic wireless communication devices: prohibitions.
(1) Existing law requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to examine applicants for specific driver’s licenses and requires that the examination include, among other things, a test of the applicants applicant’s knowledge and understanding of the provision of the Vehicle Code governing the operation of vehicles upon the highways.
This bill would require the above-described examination to also include a test of the applicant’s understanding of the distractions and dangers of handheld cellular phone use and text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.
(2) Existing law establishes that specified convictions and violations under the Vehicle Code and traffic-related incidents count as points against a driver’s record for purposes of suspension or revocation of the privilege to drive.
Under existing law, it is an infraction for any a person to drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone, or an electronic wireless communications device to write send, or read a text-based communication, unless the telephone or electronic wireless communications device is designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation, and is used in that manner while driving, except as otherwise provided. A person under 18 years of age is prohibited from driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device, even if equipped with a hands-free device.
This bill would assess a violation point for a 2nd or subsequent conviction of a violation of these provisions. This bill would also increase the base fines for a violation of any of the above-described prohibitions involving driving a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device from $20 to $50, and the fine for a 2nd or subsequent offense from $50 to $100.

(3)Existing law prohibits a law enforcement officer from stopping a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether a driver, who is under 18 years of age, is violating the prohibition of driving a motor vehicle while using a telephone or an electronic wireless communications device.

This bill would delete the above prohibition.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 12804.9 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

12804.9.
 (a) (1) The examination shall include all of the following:
(A) A test of the applicant’s knowledge and understanding of this code governing the operation of vehicles upon the highways.
(B) A test of the applicant’s ability to read and understand simple English used in highway traffic and directional signs.
(C) A test of the applicant’s understanding of traffic signs and signals, including the bikeway signs, markers, and traffic control devices established by the Department of Transportation.
(D) A test of the applicant’s understanding of the distractions and dangers of handheld cellular phone use and text messaging while operating a motor vehicle.
(E) An actual demonstration of the applicant’s ability to exercise ordinary and reasonable control in operating a motor vehicle by driving it under the supervision of an examining officer. The applicant shall submit to an examination appropriate to the type of motor vehicle or combination of vehicles he or she desires a license to drive, except that the department may waive the driving test part of the examination for an applicant who submits a license issued by another state, territory, or possession of the United States, the District of Columbia, or the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico if the department verifies through any acknowledged national driver record data source that there are no stops, holds, or other impediments to its issuance. The examining officer may request to see evidence of financial responsibility for the vehicle prior to supervising the demonstration of the applicant’s ability to operate the vehicle. The examining officer may refuse to examine an applicant who is unable to provide proof of financial responsibility for the vehicle, unless proof of financial responsibility is not required by this code.
(F) A test of the hearing and eyesight of the applicant, and of other matters that may be necessary to determine the applicant’s mental and physical fitness to operate a motor vehicle upon the highways, and whether any grounds exist for refusal of a license under this code.
(2) (A) Before a class A or class B driver’s license, or class C driver’s license with a commercial endorsement, may be issued or renewed, the applicant shall have in his or her driver record a valid report of a medical examination of the applicant given not more than two years prior to the date of the application by a health care professional. As used in this paragraph, “health care professional” means a person who is licensed, certified, or registered in accordance with applicable state laws and regulations to practice medicine and perform physical examinations in the United States. Health care professionals are doctors of medicine, doctors of osteopathy, physician assistants, and registered advanced practice nurses, or doctors of chiropractic who are clinically competent to perform the medical examination presently required of motor carrier drivers by the United States Department of Transportation. The report shall be on a form approved by the department. In establishing the requirements, consideration may be given to the standards presently required of motor carrier drivers by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
(B) The department may accept a federal waiver of one or more physical qualification standards if the waiver is accompanied by a report of a nonqualifying medical examination for a class A or class B driver’s license, or class C driver’s license with a commercial endorsement, pursuant to Section 391.41(a)(3)(ii) of Subpart E of Part 391 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
(3) A physical defect of the applicant that, in the opinion of the department, is compensated for to ensure safe driving ability shall not prevent the issuance of a license to the applicant.
(b) In accordance with the following classifications, an applicant for a driver’s license shall be required to submit to an examination appropriate to the type of motor vehicle or combination of vehicles the applicant desires a license to drive:
(1) Class A includes the following:
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (H) of paragraph (3), a combination of vehicles, if a vehicle being towed has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 10,000 pounds.
(B) A vehicle towing more than one vehicle.
(C) A trailer bus.
(D) The operation of all vehicles under class B and class C.
(2) Class B includes the following:
(A) Except as provided in subparagraph (H) of paragraph (3), a single vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds.
(B) A single vehicle with three or more axles, except any three-axle vehicle weighing less than 6,000 pounds.
(C) A bus with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds, except a trailer bus.
(D) A farm labor vehicle.
(E) A single vehicle with three or more axles or a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds towing another vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or less.
(F) A house car over 40 feet in length, excluding safety devices and safety bumpers.
(G) The operation of all vehicles covered under class C.
(3) Class C includes the following:
(A) A two-axle vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or less, including when the vehicle is towing a trailer or semitrailer with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 10,000 pounds or less.
(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), a two-axle vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds or more unladen when towing a trailer coach not exceeding 9,000 pounds gross.
(C) A house car of 40 feet in length or less.
(D) A three-axle vehicle weighing 6,000 pounds gross or less.
(E) A house car of 40 feet in length or less or a vehicle towing another vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less, including when a tow dolly is used. A person driving a vehicle shall not tow another vehicle in violation of Section 21715.
(F) (i) A two-axle vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds or more unladen when towing either a trailer coach or a fifth-wheel travel trailer not exceeding 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating, when the towing of the trailer is not for compensation.
(ii) A two-axle vehicle weighing 4,000 pounds or more unladen when towing a fifth-wheel travel trailer exceeding 10,000 pounds, but not exceeding 15,000 pounds, gross vehicle weight rating, when the towing of the trailer is not for compensation, and if the person has passed a specialized written examination provided by the department relating to the knowledge of this code and other safety aspects governing the towing of recreational vehicles upon the highway.
(iii) The authority to operate combinations of vehicles under this subparagraph may be granted by endorsement on a class C license upon completion of that written examination.
(G) A vehicle or combination of vehicles with a gross combination weight rating or a gross vehicle weight rating, as those terms are defined in subdivisions (j) and (k), respectively, of Section 15210, of 26,000 pounds or less, if all of the following conditions are met:
(i) Is operated by a farmer, an employee of a farmer, or an instructor credentialed in agriculture as part of an instructional program in agriculture at the high school, community college, or university level.
(ii) Is used exclusively in the conduct of agricultural operations.
(iii) Is not used in the capacity of a for-hire carrier or for compensation.
(H) Firefighting equipment, provided that the equipment is operated by a person who holds a firefighter endorsement pursuant to Section 12804.11.
(I) A motorized scooter.
(J) A bus with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or less, except a trailer bus.
(K)  Class C does not include a two-wheel motorcycle or a two-wheel motor-driven cycle.
(4) Class M1 includes a two-wheel motorcycle or a motor-driven cycle. Authority to operate a vehicle included in a class M1 license may be granted by endorsement on a class A, B, or C license upon completion of an appropriate examination.
(5) (A) Class M2 includes the following:
(i) A motorized bicycle or moped, or a bicycle with an attached motor, except a motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406.
(ii) A motorized scooter.
(B) Authority to operate vehicles included in class M2 may be granted by endorsement on a class A, B, or C license upon completion of an appropriate examination, except that no endorsement is required for a motorized scooter. Persons holding a class M1 license or endorsement may operate vehicles included in class M2 without further examination.
(c) A driver’s license or driver certificate is not valid for operating a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 15210, any other motor vehicle defined in paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision (b), or any other vehicle requiring a driver to hold a driver certificate or a driver’s license endorsement under Section 15275, unless a medical certificate approved by the department that has been issued within two years of the date of the operation of that vehicle and a copy of the medical examination report from which the certificate was issued is on file with the department. Otherwise, the license is valid only for operating class C vehicles that are not commercial vehicles, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 15210, and for operating class M1 or M2 vehicles, if so endorsed, that are not commercial vehicles, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 15210.
(d) A license or driver certificate issued prior to the enactment of Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 15200) is valid to operate the class or type of vehicles specified under the law in existence prior to that enactment until the license or certificate expires or is otherwise suspended, revoked, or canceled. Upon application for renewal or replacement of a driver’s license, endorsement, or certificate required to operate a commercial motor vehicle, a valid medical certificate on a form approved by the department shall be submitted to the department.
(e) The department may accept a certificate of driving skill that is issued by an employer, authorized by the department to issue a certificate under Section 15250, of the applicant, in lieu of a driving test, on class A or B applications, if the applicant has first qualified for a class C license and has met the other examination requirements for the license for which he or she is applying. The certificate may be submitted as evidence of the applicant’s skill in the operation of the types of equipment covered by the license for which he or she is applying.
(f) The department may accept a certificate of competence in lieu of a driving test on class M1 or M2 applications, when the certificate is issued by a law enforcement agency for its officers who operate class M1 or M2 vehicles in their duties, if the applicant has met the other examination requirements for the license for which he or she is applying.
(g) The department may accept a certificate of satisfactory completion of a novice motorcyclist training program approved by the commissioner pursuant to Section 2932 in lieu of a driving test on class M1 or M2 applications, if the applicant has met the other examination requirements for the license for which he or she is applying. The department shall review and approve the written and driving test used by a program to determine whether the program may issue a certificate of completion.
(h) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), a person holding a valid California driver’s license of any class may operate a short-term rental motorized bicycle without taking a special examination for the operation of a motorized bicycle, and without having a class M2 endorsement on that license. As used in this subdivision, “short-term” means 48 hours or less.
(i) A person under 21 years of age shall not be issued a class M1 or M2 license or endorsement unless he or she provides evidence satisfactory to the department of completion of a motorcycle safety training program that is operated pursuant to Article 2 (commencing with Section 2930) of Chapter 5 of Division 2.
(j) A driver of a vanpool vehicle may operate with a class C license license, but he or she shall possess evidence of a medical examination required for a class B license when operating vanpool vehicles. In order to be eligible to drive the vanpool vehicle, the driver shall keep in the vanpool vehicle a statement, signed under penalty of perjury, that he or she has not been convicted of reckless driving, drunk driving, or a hit-and-run offense in the last five years.

SEC. 2.

 Section 12810.3 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

12810.3.
 Notwithstanding subdivision (f) of Section 12810, a violation point shall only be given for a second or subsequent conviction of a violation of subdivision (a) of Section 23123, subdivision (a) of Section 23123.5, or subdivision (b) of Section 23124.

SEC. 3.

 Section 23123 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

23123.
 (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 subdivision (a) is an infraction punishable by a base fine of fifty dollars ($50) for a first offense and one hundred dollars ($100) 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.

SEC. 4.

 Section 23123.5 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

23123.5.
 (a) A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send, or read a text-based communication, unless the electronic wireless communications device is specifically designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to a text-based communication, and it is used in that manner while driving.
(b) As used in this section “write, send, or read a text-based communication” means using an electronic wireless communications device to manually communicate with any a person using a text-based communication, including, but not limited to, communications referred to as a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.
(c) For purposes of this section, a person shall not be deemed to be writing, reading, or sending a text-based communication if the person reads, selects, or enters a telephone number or name in an electronic wireless communications device for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call or if a person otherwise activates or deactivates a feature or function on an electronic wireless communications device.
(d) A violation of subdivision (a) is an infraction punishable by a base fine of fifty dollars ($50) for a first offense and a fine of one hundred dollars ($100) for each subsequent offense.
(e) This section does not apply to an emergency services professional using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in Section 165, in the course and scope of his or her duties.

SEC. 5.

 Section 23124 of the Vehicle Code is amended to read:

23124.
 (a) This section applies to a person under 18 years of age.
(b) Notwithstanding Sections 23123 and 23123.5, a person described in subdivision (a) shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone or an electronic wireless communications device, even if equipped with a hands-free device.
(c) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a base fine of fifty dollars ($50) for a first offense and a fine of one hundred dollars ($100) for each subsequent offense.
(d) A law enforcement officer shall not stop a vehicle for the sole purpose of determining whether the driver is violating subdivision (b).
(e) Subdivision (d) does not prohibit a law enforcement officer from stopping a vehicle for a violation of Section 23123 or 23123.5.

(d)

(f) This section does not apply to a person using a wireless telephone or a mobile service device 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.

(e)

(g) For purposes of this section, “electronic wireless communications device” includes, but is not limited to, a broadband personal communication device, specialized mobile radio device, handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access, pager, and two-way messaging device.