As of July 1, 2008 it is now illegal to drive in the state of California while talking on a hand-held cell phone. Like most ridiculous laws this was passed in order to make us “safer”. According to my local paper–
[A]s of Nov. 26 local traffic enforcement officers have issued 67 tickets for violations of the new law which went into effect July 1, making it illegal for any driver to use a hand-held cell phone while operating a vehicle. [In a town of less than 25,000 drivers]
The Gilroy Police Department did not have the most recent data available at press time, but as of Oct. 8, officers there issued the same number of tickets (67) to Gilroy drivers, according to GPD Sgt. Jim Gillio. [In a town of less than 40,000 drivers]
And the California Highway Patrol cited 150 people in Santa Clara and San Benito counties for violations of the hand-held cell phone law as of Nov. 8, according to CHP spokesman Chris Armstrong.
Those numbers seem pretty high to me, and they must be having a positive effect, right? Well then please explain the following quote from an SFGate article–
Statewide, 37 people died in Labor Day weekend traffic deaths as of 6 a.m. Monday, up from 32 for the same period last year, the CHP said.
That’s a “shocking” increase of 21% in traffic fatalities! Is it possible that the government lied to us? Could they merely have passed this supposed “safety” measure merely to benefit their pocketbooks? Well, returning to the Morgan hill Times article I first quoted-
Based on these numbers, the law has provided a steady stream of revenue for the state, Santa Clara County, and local police departments.
First-time offenders of the cell phone law are required to pay a $94 ticket, according to Carl Schulhof of the Santa Clara County Superior Court. While the base bail amount for the ticket is only $20, the final price tag includes a variety of state mandated penalty assessments which produce funds that are divvied up among “all kinds of revenue distribution categories,” including EMS, the court, and municipal agencies, Schulhof said.
He said the formula that determines who gets what from each fine is “fairly complex,” and he did not know how much of the revenue the MHPD would receive from each fine. However, he suggested the amount would be small after all the other agencies and departments have taken their cut.
With each subsequent violation of the hands-free cell phone requirement, the penalty assessments increase, and a second offense can result in a fine of more than $200, Schulhof added.
The citation is not considered a moving violation, so it does not automatically tarnish a motorist’s driving record.
Specifically exempted from the law are emergency service professionals who use a cell phone while operating an emergency vehicle.
Yep, sure looks like it’s all about “safety” to me. That would explain both the high level of fines and the fact that it doesn’t go on a driver’s record. And who else is completely unsurprised by the fact that government employees are exempted from yet another law that the rest of us serfs must follow?