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Talking on cellphone at red light? Don’t do it, court says

November 15, 2011 |  9:35 am

Cell phone driving
If you're one of those drivers who stops at a red light and tries to sneak in a quick phone call, you might want to think twice.

A state appeals court ruled Monday that a driver at a red light is still prohibited from using a handheld cellphone.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco upheld a $103 ticket against a Richmond motorist, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, finding that the driver is still technically "driving."

The newspaper reported that Carl Nelson was ticketed in December 2009 after a police officer saw him dialing a phone and holding it to his ear at a stoplight. He appealed the citation, arguing that the 2007 law that requires a hands-free cellphone device while driving applies only when a car is in motion.

Justice James Lambden said public safety could by threatened if drivers were allowed to make calls during "fleeting pauses in stop-and-go traffic, at traffic lights and stop signs, as pedestrians cross, as vehicles ahead navigate around a double-parked vehicle, and many other circumstances."

Deputy Atty. Gen. Eric Share told the Chronicle the ruling reflected "common sense."

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-- Kimi Yoshino

Photo: Caltrans signs warn commuters to use a hands-free device or face a ticket. Credit: Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times

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