Like a lot of laws in California, those covering texting while driving are a mess. But don't expect an L.A. traffic judge to give you a fair shake.
Despite the California DMV's own finding that you can legally read, punch in a contact number or even dial your phone in your car, if you get ticketed anyway you're pretty much doomed by a system that favors cops. Never mind that the burden of proof is on them. Never mind that there's little way for a cop to know exactly what you were punching into your device. They're going to make you pay.
And LAPD is about to take more money from you:
The department announced this week that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month or, as it's better known, Tax That Ass Month.
Because, while city street traffic is chock-full of idiotic moves all day long, LAPD will be looking for folks gazing down and poking at their phones. And that'll be like shooting fish in a barrel.
It also will mean more money for City Hall in the months leading up to the end of the fiscal year. Come July 1, L.A. is facing a more than $200 million deficit. It's fundraising season.
LAPD says “high-visibility” enforcement against distracted drivers is set for April 3, 8, 17 and 22.
The cheapest ticket will cost you $161, and remember, due process doesn't apply to this racket: You'll have to pay up front even if you're innocent. (At least in Tijuana, they take cash on the spot.)
A second ticket for this can cost $281.
That said, texting while driving is an epidemic in L.A. The department says:
Drivers who use handheld devices are four times as likely to get into crashes serious enough to injure themselves. In addition, studies show that texting while driving can delay a driver's reaction time just as severely as having a blood alcohol content of a legally drunk driver.
Let's just target bad drivers in general. iPhone in hand or not, there are plenty of them to bust. No need to sit around on a parked LAPD motorcycle – we've seen this with our own eyes – and wait for a scofflaw to drive by, especially when nearby motorists are screaming through red lights and crossing over three lanes to save a missed turn.