Town Square

Over zealous hands-free cell phone law enforcement

Original post made by John W, Cuesta Park, on Oct 21, 2009

I have always used handsfree devices if I am using a cell phone while driving.
The other day, I was talking on the bluetooth, and I pressed against the bluetooth more inwards to hear it better. Then, a cop pulled me over, and asked me: 1) Are you using your phone for an emergency? 2) Can I see your driver's license?

Without knowing what is going on, I gave him my driver's license. He went away, came back and gave me a ticket saying that I have been talking on my cell phone without hands-free.

All along, the cop was on my left hand side, so I turned to show him the bluetooth I was wearing on my right ear, and explained that I was indeed using hands-free.

He asked, "If you have a hands-free, why do you have your hand on the side of your head". I said that I was pressing against the bluetooth to hear it better. His response, "Well, every body says that. I have already written you a ticket, so you will have to explain this to the court".

I understand, by putting a hand on the side of my head, that it may cause the police officer to interpret it incorrectly. However, in this case:
1) The police officer should explain the reason for giving me a ticket, before actually writing one
2) I should be able to exercise my due process right, to show him that I am indeed wearing my bluetooth on the right ear (which he cannot see from the left hand side), and to explain that I was merely pressing against the bluetooth to hear it better.

I will take this to court.

It appears that many people have had similar experiences, with some receiving those shoot-first-ask-questions-later-tickets by simply resting and propping up the side of their heads with their left hands.

Lessons learned: Do not place your hand on or near the side of your head, while driving, as it can be misread as holding a phone to your ear, and you can be ticketed before you can prove or explain otherwise.


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Posted by TwoCents
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2009 at 8:59 am

Thanks for passing on the info. Sorry you got stuck with a ticket. Sounds like a "fundraiser" bogus violation. Fight it in court! Best of luck.

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Posted by juli
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2009 at 3:25 pm

I'm going to have to disagree with you, sorry. The phrase "hands-free" says it all. If you're using your hand - either hand - to talk on the phone, then you aren't hands-free. Using one hand to hold the bluetooth closer in your ear is no different than using one hand to hold an actual phone to your ear.

That being said, the law is idiotic to begin with. It's the conversation, not the act of holding the phone, that distracts drivers. However, your actions were a legitimate violation of a stupid law.

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Posted by Bruno
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 22, 2009 at 5:15 pm

All I know is that things were safer when I was holding my phone, and I drive stick. Now it takes me about 30 seconds to untangle my iPhone cord so I'm not breaking the law. Somehow this is seen as safer by the state. Everyone's still holding it to their ear too, just take a drive and look around.

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Posted by resident
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Hang up and drive!

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Posted by John W
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 23, 2009 at 10:27 am

If you want to get technical, the laws said that you must cannot hold a phone to your ear while driving, it does not said that you cannot adjust the volume of a bluetooth device while driving.

As mentioned in the original post, this has become quite interesting everywhere, where others were "pulled over" for adjusting their hair-clips, some for twirling their hair, others for even scratching their ears. All of these, technically, can be counted as not totally hands-free while driving.

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Posted by j
a resident of Monta Loma
on Oct 23, 2009 at 4:11 pm

I see so many idoits out there not paying attention to there driving, because they are talking on a phone. Like Juli said, it's not holding the phone that is the problem, but the lack of attention to the road. Lets face it, the roads are a danagerous place and just like a drunk, someone saused on an intense conversation is not going to be paying attention to the road and the people around them. They are to busy thinking of what to say next.

At least with a conversation with a real person in the car, there are 4 eyes there and at least 2 would be on the road at anyone time. But this is not always the case either.

Lesson of the day: Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes and mind on the road and the cars around you. And if there is a line of cars behind you that can't pass because of you, move to the right!!

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Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 23, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Lets give thanks to Joe Simitian for a worthless and somewhat unenforceable law. Hands-free devices also have volume controls just like a radio. Should we write tickets for someone using their hand to adjust the radio volume or the AC?

I would suggest social pressure over police enforcement. Try honking. It works very well in NYC and you get their attention.

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Posted by Dave
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 23, 2009 at 9:33 pm

sounds like a C.S. Los Altos PD citation.