HamRadioNow: California Drivin' (or Nightmare?)

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by KN4AQ, Mar 20, 2017.

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  1. KN4AQ

    KN4AQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    HRN 311 California Drivin' POSTER Square 250.jpg

    It is... or it is not... illegal to operate a two-way radio while driving in the state of California.

    This isn't a multiple choice test. It's the way things are under a broad but ambiguous statute on distracted driving passed by the state General Assembly last year. The statute was aimed at cell phone/texting use, but at the last minute, and without anybody watching closely, was broadened to say:

    “electronic wireless communications device” includes, but is not limited to, a broadband personal communication device, a specialized mobile radio device, a handheld device or laptop computer with mobile data access, a pager, or a two-way messaging device.

    Two California hams, Jim Aspinwall NO1PC and Norm Lucas WB6RVR, are working with a state Assemblyman to revise the statute. They join hosts David Goldenberg W0DHG and Gary Pearce KN4AQ for an in-depth look at the law, what they're doing to change it, and the connection between two-way radio use (including Amateur Radio) and distracted driving.

    So that's the first 90 minutes. Then David and Gary spend another half-hour with some banter about Reddit and Gary's HamCasters sub-Reddit board, and David's upcoming Public Service event with the Baker to Vegas run in the California and Nevada desert.

    Listen/Download AUDIO
    Good news, podcast fans: the Radio Rating of A is marred only by
    a little video from a TV station,
    and the map graphics of the Baker to Vegas run.
    We also show some text of the legislation, but Gary is careful to read it.​
    IX1FIT likes this.
  2. K0MAN

    K0MAN Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have just returned from California last week. XYL and I flew from MN to Vegas and spent three days, then rented a car in Vegas and drove to Monterey, Big Sur and Morro Bay, CA, for our other six days of Vaca. While going through the California checkpoint on Hwy 15, a California State Trooper informed me that mobile ham radio was not legal to use while driving on CA Roads!! He saw the Larsen Mag Mount and Antenna I had brought with a Handheld to use on the long drive. The CHP Officer told me he was a Ham as well and I COULD get a ticket with a large fine for using my mobile set up while on the road, just as if it was a cell phone. I pulled the Mag Mount off of the roof and stuck it in the trunk with the handheld, and that's where it stayed for the rest of our trip.

    Jim KØMAN
  3. W6NIK

    W6NIK Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    It is going to be up to the Officers discretion until it is further clarified.

    However, driving around with a mag mount antenna hooked to a radio isn't going to get you ticket. Operating the device and an Officer seeing you do that, gets you the ticket.

    Nik W6NIK
    W7GST likes this.
  4. K0MAN

    K0MAN Ham Member QRZ Page

    Nik that is why I put COULD in Caps. As the CHP officer did point out that using the radio while driving in CA was a violation. Thanks for pointing that out and I want to point out that the CHP Officer was very nice and informative.
  5. KQ6XA

    KQ6XA Ham Member QRZ Page

    As a designer of cell phones, the term "Specialized Mobile Radio Device" rang a bell for me when I read it in the new California law.

    In 1979, FCC defined the term Specialized Mobile Radio Service (SMRS).
    This term was subsequently utilized in various state laws simply as an alternative word for cell phone.
    The SMRS was what most of us knew as 800/900 MHz SMR spectrum (made famous by Nextel).
    A handheld communication device that utilized this system is called a "Specialized Mobile Radio Device".
    It appears that the California law and other state laws got the boiler plate reference to the "Specialized Mobile Radio Device" from FCC's original SMRS definition, since it is a type of "cell phone".

    Specialized Mobile Radio Service

    The Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) service was first established by the Commission in 1979 to provide land mobile communications on a commercial (i.e., for profit) basis. A traditional SMR system consists of one or more base station transmitters, one or more antennas, and end user radio equipment that usually consists of a mobile radio unit either provided by the end user or obtained from the SMR operator for a fee. SMR end users may operate in either an "interconnected" mode or a "dispatch" mode. Interconnected mode connects mobile radio units with the public switched telephone network (PSTN) through the SMR base station. This allows the mobile radio unit to function as a mobile telephone. Dispatch mode allows two-way, over the air, voice communications between two or more mobile units (e.g., between a car and a truck) or between mobile units and fixed units (e.g., between the end user's office and a truck).

    SMRS Specifications
    SMR systems consist of three distinct types: conventional radio system (see definition in rule 90.7), trunked radio system (see definition in rule 90.7), and 800 MHz cellular system (see definition in rule 90.7 or FCC 04-168 (pdf). A conventional radio system typically utilizes high powered base stations. End users must manually monitor channels to ensure that they are not occupied before talking. If someone else is already using that end user's assigned channel, the end user must wait until the channel is available. In contrast, a trunked radio system combines channels and contains micro processing capabilities that automatically search for an open channel. This search capability allows more users to be served at any one time. Finally, 800 MHz cellular systems, that also utilize micro processing capabilities, additionally use low powered base stations and reuse frequencies over a wide operating area to further increase the efficient use of the spectrum. The majority of the current SMR systems are either trunked radio systems or 800 MHz cellular systems.
  6. KY6M

    KY6M Ham Member QRZ Page

    This all total silliness of course! I work for a large California utility and we use HTs with a extension mic in our company vehicles and they confirmed it with the state that it is NOT illegal.
    W7XLR, K7XI, W7GST and 2 others like this.
  7. K3SZ

    K3SZ Ham Member QRZ Page

    The original law's author(s) also neglected to take into account the conflict that is created for pilot cars (28101 & 35407.5 CVC) and there is no exemption made for pilot cars in the original statutory section (23123.5 CVC). I have received some updates that this section may get revised in the near future.
    KD7OIR likes this.
  8. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page

    Sloppy laws create huge problems.

    The Parity Act, now in the Senate, will REQUIRE all hams with Community Associations to APPLY for installation of outdoor antennas.

    That means your CA that deals with water rights and road kill must now consider antennas. NOT just the CA's that normally 'control' antenna installations. This will be a disaster where non profits essentially control your ability to operate, not just for present HOA restricted areas--BUT NATIONWIDE.

    A fatal wording to a great notion.

    Because of this stupid wording, I suspended work on a superstation in KY intended to be a prototype remote for ARRL members.

    I will not spend a penny of legal fees, which will clearly happen if this bill gets passed--because some idiot ham activist--IMO--didn't correct the wording.

    But you can clearly see how intent and wording , when not aligned,are affecting CA hams...

    Soon ALL hams in the US.
    K3RW likes this.
  9. W1YW

    W1YW Ham Member QRZ Page


    That was an interesting discourse--but what was the punchline?

    That they ripped off wording and it got applied universally to all radios?

    We didn;t get the point.
    KD7OIR and K3XR like this.
  10. KN4AQ

    KN4AQ Subscriber QRZ Page

    KD7OIR, W7GST and K3RW like this.

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