criminal law

California No Texting Law

On January 1, California prohibited persons from texting while driving. This new law, found in California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5, covers activities beyond text messaging. Specifically, the section states

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text-based communication.

The code further states that this prohibition applies to text messages, instant messages and electronic mails. Now, for the strange part. The code specifically excludes “read[ing], select[ing] or enter[ing] a telephone number or name … for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call.” So, some form of text input is apparently safe, but not others.

The real quirk is the focus on text-based communication. Video conferencing? Gaming? Entering text into an electronic diary? Maintaining a to-do list? Not prohibited by this law.