The department of risk management has updated its policy to suit the updated laws for university employees on state business.
On July 1, 2008, it was officially made illegal to talk on your cell phone while driving if you were not using a Bluetooth headset.
While talking and driving was previously illegal, it was not until Jan. 1, 2009, that a new law went into effect regarding text messaging.
In between July and January, while it was illegal to talk on your cell phone, it was legal to write and send a text message while driving.
Amy Armstrong, public information officer for University Police, said, â€œLooking back from Jan. 1 to the present, in almost three months we have issued six citations for talking on cell phones, although none of them were for text messaging.â€
Penalties and exceptions
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site, the first offense for talking on a cell phone is a $20 fine.
The second is a $50 fine.
Armstrong said that after court fees and other costs, the fines can really take a toll.
The text messaging law, along with the Bluetooth requirement while driving, does not apply to everyone.
According to the language of the law and Armstrong, law enforcement officers while on duty are exempt from the law of talking on cell phones while driving.
â€œMost of our officers do use the Bluetooth earpiece, but all officers in the state of California are the exception to that law.â€
All faculty, staff and administrators at the university are considered state employees.
The policy has information from steps to take when leaving on state business to misuse of vehicles and insurance information down to the new text messaging installment.
Different from state employees are the auxiliaries. They are a little bit different from state employees therefore they have their own set of guidelines they have to follow.
Auxiliaryâ€™s employees include the Kennel Bookstore, Residence Dining Hall, University Student Union and University Courtyard.
The university policy and risk management criteria for driving on university business within the state of California was updated to inform state employees of the new laws and requirements for driving on state business.
â€œWhether you are on state business or not you are still required to follow the law. And I know the office of risk management has made sure employees are aware of the law and not to use talk on phones on any business unless hands free,â€ Armstrong said.
The updated policy also includes information for leaving on state business.
From Armstrongâ€™s own personal experience while driving their own vehicles on state business, employees has to submit all insurance info, vehicle info, license plate make of car, as well as all the driversâ€™ history required by the policy.
Prior to leaving for state business it is required to pass a defensive driving training course that all employees have to go through.
Included in the policy is a section on department usage of golf carts.
Any department can have a golf cart but to be able to drive one is considered state business.
â€œAll of the staff in our office that drive either golf carts , patrol cars or any other state vehicle all have to go through this,â€ Armstrong said.
The policy refers to driving on state business â€” such as conferences or meetings off-campus â€” and does not pertain to everyday business. It is in place for faculty, staff and university volunteers.