Every driver in California has various rights and responsibilities they should know when operating their vehicle. Unfortunately, some drivers are unaware that certain actions violate state law and present severe dangers to them. When it comes to headphones, many drivers wonder whether it is legal to wear and use headphones while driving. According to California Vehicle Code 27400, it is unlawful for anyone operating any vehicle, including bicycles, to wear headphones during operation.
Many people enjoy listening to music during their commutes or while running errands in California but interfering with the ability to hear your surroundings while driving is inherently dangerous. The law against headphones applies to devices that fit inside or around the ear. The only exceptions to this law would be drivers who must use hearing aids to support hearing loss and drivers required to wear hearing protection while operating specialized vehicles.
Risks of Wearing Headphones While Driving
Distracted driving is a serious problem throughout the United States, accounting for more vehicle accidents than other leading causes. Wearing headphones is not only more immersive than listening to music through the vehicle’s stereo system but also blocks out noises from around the vehicle. A driver listening to loud music through their vehicle’s stereo is potentially dangerous and distracting, but they are at least more likely to hear important sounds nearby than a driver wearing headphones.
Since it is illegal for any driver or bicyclist to wear headphones while operating their vehicle in California, if an accident occurs and the victim was wearing headphones, this will likely work against them in subsequent legal proceedings. California enforces a pure comparative negligence statute, meaning a plaintiff who bears partial fault for their claimed damages will lose a percentage of their final case award to reflect their shared fault.
Additionally, wearing headphones while driving in California incurs a fine of about $200 and a point on the driver’s license. When a driver accumulates too many points in a relatively short time, they may face penalties, including license suspension and mandatory driver safety courses at their own expense.
Hands-Free Devices for California Drivers
California was one of the first US states to ban the use of cell phones while driving. If a driver must use a cell phone while operating their vehicle, they must do so with the use of a completely hands-free system that utilizes the vehicle’s speaker system for calls. Similar to the law against headphones, a driver may not use a Bluetooth earpiece or any headphone-style connected device for their phone while operating a vehicle in California.
If you are unsure whether a specific device is safe and legal to use in your vehicle, determine whether it is entirely hands-free and then ensure it does not require using any devices placed in or around your ears. If you can use the device without taking your hands off the vehicle’s controls and without placing anything in or over your ears, it is probably safe and legal to use in California.
What to Do After an Accident
Regardless of whether you or the other driver was wearing headphones in a collision, your first steps after any car accident can profoundly impact your life for the foreseeable future. First, you must report the accident to 911 if it resulted in significant property damage, injury, or death. Once you have reported the accident, your first concern should be your personal health and safety. Seek medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible before consulting an attorney about your options for legal recourse.
If the driver who hit you was wearing headphones behind the wheel, this may not only have caused them to miss auditory cues that could have helped them avoid the crash, but it is also a violation of state law. Drivers who cause accidents through illegal actions, however minor, risk facing severe penalties beyond liability for victims’ damages. Chris and Frank Accident Attorneys can give the client-focused legal representation you need to maximize your recovery from your damages.
Driving in California FAQs
Can You Wear Airpods While Driving in California?
Airpods are very popular wireless headphones, but they still fit inside the ear and are therefore illegal to use while driving. It does not matter if your headphones are wireless or wired. Any device that fits inside or around the ear while driving is illegal in California.
How Can You Talk on the Phone While Driving in California?
Many consumer products readily available allow a driver to connect their phone to their vehicle’s speaker system. Many newer vehicles come with Bluetooth connectivity for phones as a standard feature. Connecting your phone to your vehicle wirelessly via Bluetooth or with a physical connection to the vehicle allows you to conduct phone calls without using your hands while driving.
What Happens If a Driver Causes an Accident While Wearing Headphones?
The at-fault driver’s headphone use may not be the direct cause of the accident, but the fact that they were illegally wearing headphones while driving will be an aggravating factor that works against them in subsequent legal proceedings. If the at-fault driver who caused your recent accident was wearing headphones when they caused the crash, this might enhance the penalties they receive and make it easier for you to establish their fault for the incident.
Should I Hire an Attorney for a Car Accident With a Driver Wearing Headphones?
Regardless of how your recent car accident happened, if another driver is at fault, you need experienced legal counsel who can help you hold them accountable for your losses. A car accident attorney can help you prove liability for the accident and assist you in proving the full range of damages you can seek under California’s personal injury laws.
Chris and Frank Accident Attorneys has years of experience handling car accident claims for clients throughout Southern California. When an accident case involves complex details like headphone use or other variables, you must have legal counsel you can trust to assist you in navigating the unique aspects of your case. If you are ready to explore your legal options after a car accident in California, contact Chris and Frank Accident Attorneys to schedule a consultation with our team.