police officers say they have handed out a steady flow of citations since July
1, when a ban took effect on driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone.
Some law-enforcement officers have said they’ll give
warnings at first, but others have jumped right to tickets when they’ve seen a
driver holding a cell phone.
“A big reason why we’re enforcing this is because some
people are not even yielding to emergency vehicles when they’re talking,” said
She said she’s given out an average of three citations a day
in town for the cell-phone violation.
“I’m not even sure if I like the idea of hands-free set,”
which makes talking on cell phones legal while driving, she said, “because
people get so engrossed in their conversations and they’re not paying
Lebine said people’s reactions to getting caught have been
mixed. Some take the ticket while others plead that they were just making a
quick call. One man tried to hide his phone, clasping it in his hand, while
another person stashed it under the seat.
Mostly, though, drivers around town seem to be abiding by
the new law.
“I always used a hands-free device in the first place, so
I’ve never had a problem with it,” said 29-year-old Jasmine Ullman of Tracy. “I
don’t like driving with one hand.”
Becky Bishop, 46, of Mountain House, said she switches to
speaker-phone when talking in the car.
“I like to talk and drive, but I know that they’re giving
tickets now, or at least that’s what I’ve heard,” she said.
Clint Sandoval, 34, of
said he’s stopped talking and texting all together while driving.
“I used to text and drive more than I talked and drove,” he
said. “That probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do.”
As of this week, the California Highway Patrol cited 4,445
violating the new law. Only five of them were in the
A CHP spokesman said one reason for the low numbers of
citations could be the publicity and relatively long period leading up to the
enforcement of the law. The measure was adopted by the Legislature in October
2006 but not enforced until July 1, 2008.
The San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office has given nine cell
phone citations, all in Lathrop.
The hands-free law, officially titled “Prohibitive Use of a
Hand-held Wireless Telephone,” carries a first-time fine of $20 and a $50 fine
for each subsequent offense. The law does not apply to people making emergency