CHP to Crack Down on Eating, Applying Makeup While Driving (Not Just Cellphones)

The California Highway Patrol has had some trouble, in the past, explaining where the no-texting law ends and dialing a number into your phone (which is technically legal) begins.

"When you look for loopholes, the whole issue of cellphone use, texting or distracted driving becomes confusing, if not overwhelming," CHP Officer Steve Creel told the Mercury News last spring.

But the CHP will be swinging to the harshest end of that spectrum for its 24-hour distracted-driving crackdown this Friday and Saturday:

Officials tell Fox40 that from 6 a.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Saturday -- just one day before New Year's, when we're all perhaps a little giddy -- they'll be pulling over drivers for eating, reading, putting on makeup or anything else that sways their attention from the road.

Talk about "zero tolerance." According to the Los Angeles Times:

While there is no law saying someone can't eat while driving, a distracted driver is in violation of the law.

Under California's vehicle code, a driver can be ticketed $145 to $1,000 for having "wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property." Officers will also be tracking these distractions and the number of distracted drivers, because there are not very good data on just how many distracted drivers there are.

Guess our morning makeup/breakfast routine will have to be planned a little further ahead of time tomorrow.

"There's no specific law for somebody eating a cheeseburger and driving a vehicle," another CHP officer tells Fox40. "But unfortunately we have some drivers who don't have the ability to multitask." (Thanks for ruining the commute for the rest of us, guys.)

But the question still remains: Where do we draw the line? Can we blow our nose? Drink coffee? Change the radio station?

"I think it must be a poorly written law," San Jose State professor John Clapp said in the Mercury News piece from springtime. "I think we should be able to do better." Indeed, any law that allows officers to use such a wide range of discretion leaves more room for discrimination, he-said-she-said, etc.

One more fun fact, for the road:

Since California's law requiring hands-free devices took effect in 2008, the CHP has written 518,161 citations statewide. They have written 11,634 tickets for texting while driving.

[@simone_electra / swilson@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]


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