Correct Ambiguities of AB 1785/CVC-23123.5 Cellular Hands-free Public Safety Law

Calif AB 1785 was passed in 2016 and went into effect 1/1/2017 as California Vehicle Code 23123.

Because the letter of the law is ambiguous, as are its interpretation, the call-to-action is to correct CVC-23123.5 considering the points presented.

  • Impact: Demonstrate that "two-way radio use" is not a significant threat to public safety.
  • Implementation: Clearly limit this law to known, tangible risks vs. those that are not.

 Talking points:

  • Given/accepted: Safe operation of the vehicle is the most important responsibility of a driver
  • Given/accepted: Immersive/interactive visual and typing response to 'devices' can be a significant distraction to motor vehicle operation
  • Historically: In nearly 70+ years of "two-way radio" there are NO known, documented cases of such operation being any known threat to public safety or operation of a motor vehicle.

Possible unintended consequences:

  • 'Profiling' of those with any 'additional' antennas on their vehicle no matter the use/application.
  • 'Profiling' of those with amateur radio license plates as they could suggest a the driver may be operating 'illegally.'
  • Inhibition of essential situation awareness for public safety that does not meet some criteria of 'emergency' reporting

Our request:

  • Constrain this legislation, law and enforcement to its originally intended "cell phone" focus
  • Strike any/all broad "and other devices, etc.." language that suggests other than the intended cellular/smart-phone/interactive devices
  • As much as possible/practical exempt/exclude fixed-installation devices with 'passive' components/accessories that do not require both visual and tactile distraction to operate (tethered/attached radio microphones.)
  • Ensure consistency in the detection and enforcement advice to all agencies and LEOs, to the extent of recognition of basic communications devices that are less complex than the devices employed in their jobs.

Bottom-line:

  • Laws/regulations must be universally and commonly understandable by the public, LEO, lawyers and judges.
  • Laws must only address known risks to public safety, of which there is NO data relative to any variant of "two-way radio."
  • This law could be a negative model for other states, or it could be a good one.  Informed and considerate, we can do better, and expect it.

 We look forward to appropriate improvements and effectiveness of this and future laws/regulations without ambiguity, and with consistency of application.

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