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New state law on driving with cell phones goes into effect

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that prohibits the use of handheld mobile phones while driving in the state. For more information, visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles Web site at www.ca.dmv.org or call Security Forces Police Services at 606-6873. (Photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Jonathan Olds)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that prohibits the use of handheld mobile phones while driving in the state. For more information, visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles Web site at www.ca.dmv.org or call Security Forces Police Services at 606-6873. (Photo illustration/Airman 1st Class Jonathan Olds)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Two new California state laws dealing with the use of wireless telephones while driving go into effect Tuesday. 

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed legislation that prohibits the use of handheld mobile phones while driving in the state. 

California Vehicle Code 23123 states all drivers will be prohibited from using a handheld wireless telephone while operating a motor vehicle. Motorists 18 and over may use a hands-free device such as a Bluetooth device or integrated speaker system within the vehicle. Vehicle Code 23124 states drivers under the age of 18 may not use a wireless telephone or hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who violate this law off of an Air Force Installation in the state of California will face a fine of $20 for a first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense plus administrative fees. 

This restriction has been in effect on Air Force Installations since February 27, 2006. According to the Joint Traffic Regulation, Air Force Instruction 31-218 (I), Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision will restrict the use of cell phones while driving. This restriction also applies to all government owned vehicles at all times. No GOV drivers are permitted to talk on a cell phone while driving without a hands-free device on or off base. 

Anyone operating a motor vehicle on VAFB will have a 30 day grace period for this new state law. However, as of August 1, everyone will be eligible for citations if operating a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone without a hands free device. This also includes operators under the age of 18 using any type of wireless device while driving. The new law also prohibits operators sending text messages and utilizing a "push to talk" feature (such as Nextel) while driving. There is one exception to this rule if driving off an Air Force Installation: If the motor vehicle driver has a class "A" or "B" licensee operating a truck tractor defined in Vehicle Code 655 or a motor truck as defined in Vehicle Code 410, they are allowed to use a "push talk" feature. 

These are only a few restrictions for the new Vehicle Code. If you have any questions or just want to find out more about this law, you can visit the California Department of Motor Vehicles Web site at www.ca.dmv.org or you can contact Security Forces Police Services at 606-6873.