Attributed to James Latham, AF6AQ ARRL East Bay SM
“Thanks to Bill Hillendahl, SF SM, for the following update:
A quick update on the CA Hands Free Law – AB 1785/CVC 23123.5.
We have been fielding a number of inquires on if Amateur Radio (2-way
radio) is exempt from the updated “hands-free” law that went into effect
on January 1st of this year. The language of the legislation is “all
inclusive” and tends to, by default, wrap 2-way radio use into the
Amateur licensees in the Pacific and South West Divisions of ARRL have
been working on this issue. The original bill’s sponsor has been
contacted a number of times. The CHP command has also been contacted.
As a result, the CHP has issued a memo to its officers advising that “a
radio installed and mounted in a vehicle with a wired hand microphone is
not considered a wireless communications device……..and therefore is
not subject to enforcement under this section.” That memo was issued
on March 28, 2017.
More recently, the sponsoring assemblyman entered into the Assembly
Journal a letter establishing the legislative intent of the law.
Essentially, the letter states that common 2-way, wired radio use was
not intended to be addressed by the newer hands-free law. This letter
was published in the Assembly Journal on April 27, 2017.
Please note: Use of an HT would still be a violation. The radio must
be mounted and the microphone be corded to the radio.
Please remember that not all law enforcement officers will be aware of
these documents, and may not follow them. Amateurs may still be
I would like to hear if any Amateur is actually cited under CVC 23123.5
for using Amateur Radio.
We can all thank the past SW Div Vice Director Marty Woll N6VI, Jim
Aspinwall NO1PC, Norm Lucas WB6RVR, and others behind the scenes for
their valiant effort to move this clarification forward. The effort is
not over, as equally ambiguous language is being promoted in the
revision to the law moving through the legislature now.
Please remind everyone that they must still not use their radios in a
manner that detracts from their safe operation of their vehicle.
Drivers can still be cited under the very broad “distracted driving”
ARRL East Bay Section
Section Manager: James R Latham, AF6AQ