Is It Illegal to Drive With Headphones in California?
With the long commutes and slow traffic, it can be tempting to drive with headphones on in California. Whether drivers are looking to tune everything out or entertain themselves with an audiobook or music, wearing headphones while driving puts others at risk of serious injury or death.
For the safety of other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, the state of California has implemented laws that prohibit the wearing of headphones while operating a motor vehicle.
Drivers who wear headphones may not only violate California law but also be liable for injuries and damage in the event of an accident. If you’re injured by a distracted driver in California, contact our auto accident attorneys at LA Century Law.
What are the Dangers of Wearing Headphones While Driving?
Wearing any sort of device, whether it be earbuds or on-ear headphones, is an immense distraction for any driver. It puts drivers in a vulnerable position, being unable to hear surrounding traffic and potential accident cues, emergency vehicles, and car horns.
Not to mention, getting caught up in a favorite song or concentrating on a podcast can critically impact an individual’s cognitive focus. Having headphones on makes drivers more prone to tuning everything else out.
In the unfortunate event that you or a loved one was injured in a car accident that involved another driver wearing headphones in California, it’s important to seek the guidance of an experienced attorney.
What is California’s Law for Wearing Headphones While Driving?
California law states that the use of devices, whether covering or inserted into both ears, is prohibited while operating a motor vehicle. This includes bicyclists and all motor vehicles — not just cars.
The following scenarios have exceptions and do not include the wearing of headphones for entertainment purposes:
- Individuals operating authorized emergency vehicles
- Individuals who need to wear safety equipment, such as protective gear for ears, while operating during waste collection
- Individuals who are involved in highway construction and operating special equipment
- Individuals who are wearing specially designed protective ear coverings to reduce injurious levels of noise
- Individuals who need to wear other ear coverings, such as devices that aid in hearing
Dealing with the aftermath of car accidents can have a mental and physical toll on the victim. An attorney can help ease the burden of dealing with insurance companies and legal paperwork, as well as ensure all parties are properly investigated.
Are There Penalties for Being Caught Wearing Headphones While Driving in California?
What happens if someone were to get caught while driving with headphones on in California? This is a violation of California Vehicle Code 27400, and the penalties are as follows:
- A person who is caught violating California Vehicle Code 27400 may receive a fine of$197.
- Violators will receive one point on their DMV driving record.
- The DMV may impose a suspension of the person’s driver’s license if they receive a certain number of points within a given period of time.
If the person was doing other illegal activities while driving with headphones, the citation and punishment could be more severe. Additionally, if the driver collides with a pedestrian or another driver, it could warrant a personal injury lawsuit.
In California, if the victim is able to show that the driver who collided with them was wearing headphones, the law will recognize the driver as negligent, and no further proof is needed to determine whether or not they were distracted.
Each state is different when it comes to the complexities of laws surrounding the use of technology in cars. With that said it can be hard to keep up or understand specifically what is considered illegal, considering technology and devices are ever-changing.
What to Do If Injured in a Crash by a Driver Wearing Headphones
Calling 911 is the first thing someone should do if they are injured in a crash. Seeking medical assistance could be life-saving. From there, the victim should do the following to increase their chance of receiving full compensation and protecting their rights.
File a report with law enforcement
Law enforcement will do a preliminary investigation which will allow them to document all necessary items.
Continue to document everything
If there is damage to the victim’s body or car, take photos. Continue documenting any injuries, whether they are visible or not. Also, be sure to obtain the person who was responsible for the accident’s personal information, like name, address, and insurance information. If there are any nearby witnesses, obtaining their information could also help authorities and insurance companies determine who is at fault.
Seek guidance from an experienced attorney
Hiring a professional who specializes in car accidents and personal injury claims will help you navigate through the complex legal process of filing a claim.
Driving with headphones on in California is illegal, and if someone causes an accident or injury while wearing them, they should be held accountable. It’s not uncommon for liable parties to suddenly stop cooperating, making the process even more difficult.
Consult with LA Century Law Regarding California’s Headphone Law
LA Century Law is experienced in car accidents and personal injury claims where distraction and negligence are factors. We are dedicated to civil litigation and can assist individuals who fall victim to someone operating a vehicle while wearing headphones.
Those involved may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other expenses. Contact us today for a free consultation, where our team of professionals will walk you through the claims process.
FAQs About Headphone Use Behind the Wheel
Is it illegal to wear headphones while driving in California?
Yes; it is illegal to operate any motorized vehicle, including bicycles. With that said, having one earpod or earphone in just one ear is acceptable by law, although can be difficult to prove.
What is the punishment for violating California Vehicle Code 27400?
A standard $197 ticket will be given if someone is pulled over while wearing headphones. More severe punishments and fines may be given to those who caused an accident, or injury, or were involved in other illegal activities. Points on the responsible party’s DMV license may also occur.