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CHP in Orange County cracks down on drivers violating hands-free cellphone law

February 10, 2011 | 10:52 am

An aggressive Orange County crackdown on motorists violating California’s hands-free cellphone law ends Thursday, officers said. From Tuesday to Thursday, the California Highway Patrol has engaged in a tactical enforcement campaign to cite motorists and spread awareness about the dangers of illegal cellphone use while driving.

CHP officers in Santa Ana, San Juan Capistrano and Westminster have joined forces to seek out drivers violating the law that requires the use of headsets or hands-free devices while talking on a cellphone. Texting while driving is also banned under a 2008 law, said Officer Denise Quesada, a CHP spokeswoman.

Similar enforcements are taking place this week in the CHP’s Valley Division in and around Sacramento. The CHP’s Border Division, which includes Orange and San Diego counties, is the only other division of the CHP participating in the enforcement blitz, Quesada said.

According to the CHP, cellphone use is the No. 1 reason for driver inattention stated on collision reports.

In 2010, the Orange County CHP cited 11,367 drivers for failing to use hands-free devices and drivers under 18 using any kind of cellphone, CHP records show.

The CHP also issued 397 texting-while-driving citations in Orange County last year. The base fine for the  cellphone violation is $20 and $50 for each subsequent conviction, Quesada said. Courts also tack on penalty assessments and administrative fees, causing the total fee to rise, Quesada said.

A press conference will be held Tuesday at the Orange County CHP Communications Center. 6681 Marine Way, Irvine, officials said. All participating agencies will be present and collected statistics about the crackdown will be released at that time.

Similar enforcement tactics will occur statewide in April, which is designated as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

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-- Nate Jackson

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