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Driving while using cell phone will go on DMV driving record

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POSTED September 27, 2013 1:26 a.m.

SACRAMENTO – Do you have questions about general driving related requirements like registration, licensing and insurance? Are you unclear about laws and restrictions related to driving? The California Department of Motor Vehicles has answers. “Save Time, Go Online,” at You can submit any DMV-related questions at

1. Q. I was recently cited for talking on my cell phone while driving and not using a hands-free device. Will this appear on my driving record and affect my insurance rates?

A. Yes, the violation is a reportable offense; however, a violation point will not be assigned to your DMV record. In terms of insurance rates, if you violate California’s hand-held wireless telephone law (CA Vehicle Code 23123), the violation will be reported on the individual’s public driving record for 3 years. As a result, insurance companies would have access to the violation information. Insurance companies could potentially increase a customer’s insurance rates. Remember, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communication device to write, send, or read text messages, instant messages, and emails unless you are 18 years of age or older and using an electronic wireless communications device designed and configured to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation to dictate, send, or listen to text-based communications when operating a vehicle. NOTE: With certain exceptions, adults may not use a cell phone while driving unless hands-free equipment is used. Minors may not use a cell phone except in certain emergencies.

2. Q. Recently, I’ve noticed drivers wearing headphones while driving. Wouldn’t the driver be distracted while listening to music through the headphones? Is this legal?

A. It’s legal to wear an ear bud in one ear, but not two.

3. Q. Can I bring my pet into a DMV field office?

A. Only service animals may accompany a person into a DMV Office. You are required to comply with county or city ordinances regarding leash laws, so your service animal must be leashed or under the control of its owner when inside the DMV office, if the local ordinances require it. If your animal poses a direct threat to the health or safety of other people, you will be asked to remove your animal from the office. Although the service animal is not required to wear an identifying harness or special collar, you may be asked if the animal is a service animal or what tasks the animal has been trained to perform. You should not be refused service because you are accompanied by your service animal.

4. Q. Where can I get information about DMV field office closures? 

A. You can find information about DMV field offices closures by visiting us online at or by calling 1-800-777-0133. DMV’s website includes a section called “Interrupted Services and Closure Information,” where you can find out which offices are closed for service.  The website also provides information regarding field office locations, office hours, and “Holidays DMV will Be Observing.”

5. Q. I have an old car that I don’t drive because it doesn’t work that well.  Do I still have to pay to have it registered?

A. It depends. If you plan to store and not operate your vehicle during the next renewal year, you can apply for the Planned Non-Operation option online. There is a filing fee of $19 for the PNO. The PNO filing fee may be paid up to 60 days prior to the expiration date without late fees. If you file up to 90 days after the expiration date, you will be liable for late fees on the full registration amount. If at any time the vehicle is operated or parked where it may be subject to citation, then full registration fees and penalties for that year become due.  For more information or to apply for the PNO online, visit

6. Q. What should I do in a roadside emergency?

A. Great question. Last year, the California Highway Patrol assisted motorists in more than 1.1 million roadside emergencies or other related issues across California. Having a roadside emergency kit in every vehicle is another simple way for motorists to be more prepared for emergencies or when stranded in a vehicle until help arrives. You can purchase roadside emergency kits at many retailers or create your own kit.

Recommended items for a basic roadside emergency kit include:

• Properly inflated spare tire and tire pressure gauge

• Tire inflator or foam tire sealant

• Car jack and lug wrench that fits your vehicle

• Jumper cables to restart a dead car battery

• 15 minute roadside flare

• Reflective warning triangle or cone

• Charged cellphone or other method of contacting emergency services

• Bottled water

• Flashlight with extra batteries

• Multi-tool or basic tool kit

• First aid kit including large bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, and scissors

• Work gloves

• Duct tape

• 50 foot rope and utility knife

• A quart of motor oil

• Plastic sheeting or plastic tarp

• Energy bars or other shelf stable food

• Appropriate seasonal items such as blankets, tire chains and an ice scraper.

The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services has useful information to help Californians be better prepared, including how to maintain emergency kits for homes, businesses and vehicles. For more information visit:

The Office of Traffic Safety also has a useful list of supplies that motorists should keep in their vehicles to be more prepared for the next roadside emergency:

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