Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Can You Legally Text While Stopped at a Red Light? No.

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

California Texting while driving law

Photo by shredded77 via Flickr

2009 brought in a plethora of new laws and one in particular--texting while driving--has a lot of people asking questions.

On an earlier post about the texting law this week, LAist reader sucatrapsorter asked: "Does 'driving' include instances where one is stopped at a light and texting/emailing, or does it only refer to when the car is actually in motion?"

Support for LAist comes from

"It's against the law. If you are stopped at a light or a stop sign, you are still in control of that vehicle and need to be able to react," CHP's Jaimie Coffee told Alana Semuels of the LA Times in an extremely thorough 20 question set about the new law.

"I'm good as long as i can still google map on my cell," commented LAist reader tp4free.

"Technically speaking... if the text-based communication is not going to another 'person' you're not in violation. The new law addresses two-way communication," Coffee told The Times. So, yes, you're all good to type directions into a map or GPS program on your phone as well as read them. However, it's always recommended you don't for safety reasons.

Finally, BingosDingos asked "what happens when you have an older phone that requires manually dialing a number despite having a headset? That's not really texting." And no, it's not texting, per this law Coffee says "you can still dial, and the new law doesn't prohibit you from dialing. However, as soon as you hit send, you must be hands-free. If you've got voice-activated dialing, it's even better."