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Some drivers still hands-on

Officers issue 26 tickets to Glendale motorists during the first week of cellphone law.

July 12, 2008|By Veronica Rocha

GLENDALE — Police issued 26 citations to motorists in the city during the first seven days that two cellphone laws went into effect, officials said.

The laws make it illegal to use a hand-held cellphone while driving, and don’t allow anyone 17 and younger to use a cellphone — even with a headset or another hands-free device — laptop, pager or other electronic mobile communication devices.

California Highway Patrol officials reported that stations in Altadena and Central Los Angeles, whose coverage area includes Glendale, reported that they issued about 20 citations on July 1, when the two laws went into effect.

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The cellphone law doesn’t prohibit adult drivers from texting while driving, but officers can issue citations to drivers they believe are distracted by texting.

“You can text while you’re driving, but you can’t talk on your cellphone,” said Alex Amirkhanin, 17, Glendale. “That doesn’t make sense.”

He said motorists won’t follow the new cellphone laws.

“If you see a cop, all you have to do is throw your phone down so he doesn’t see you,” Alex said.

He said talking to a passenger is just as distracting as talking on a cellphone while driving.

The vehicle code violation under which motorists were cited from July 1 to 7 is called “person using a cellphone,” Glendale police Sgt. Tom Lorenz said.

Other cellphone violations that motorists can be cited for are “person under 18 using a cellphone” and “person driving school bus or transit bus with cellphone,” he said.

Most Glendale motorists are complying with the new laws, police said.

About 95% of motorists who received citations admitted to police that they were wrong in using their cellphones while driving, Glendale police Sgt. Pete Pressnell said.

“About 5% were in total denial,” he said.

In the first week the laws became effective, police were looking out for cellphone violations since they were new laws, Pressnell said.

The fine for using a hand-held cellphone while driving is $20 for a first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. A first-offense fine total can reach up to $76 when court fees are included. For a second offense, fines and court fees can make the total $190.

When motorists are convicted, it will be included on their driving record, but will not result in points being added to their license.

The money from the citations goes to the state, not to law-enforcement agencies, CHP officials said.

Tina Ajrtony, 17, of Glendale said she uses the speaker phone option on her cellphone while driving.

Adult motorists can use the speaker phone function on their cellphone while driving, but can’t have both ears covered by a headset, according to the law.

She also contends motorists will continue to use hand-held cellphones while driving.

“Nobody is going to listen,” Tina said.


 VERONICA ROCHA covers public safety and the courts. She may be reached at (818) 637-3232 or by e-mail at veronica.rocha@latimes.com.

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