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Is wearing headphones while driving legal?


Involved in a Motor Vehicle Accident While Wearing Your Headphones? Get Legal Insight From Our Personal Injury Attorneys Today

Were you involved in a motor vehicle accident while wearing your headphones? You may share a degree of fault for allowing distractions to tamper with your driving. However, you could still be able to obtain recoverable compensation depending on the amount of negligence contributed by the other party involved in the motor vehicle accident. 

If you would like to learn more about how to handle such a case, we welcome you to contact our personal injury attorneys for further legal assistance. Our 24/7 legal team will analyze your case to determine whether it is worth filing a claim against the other party. To schedule a free consultation, you may reach us by calling (888) 395-7234 or completing our quick contact form

Is It Illegal to Drive While Wearing Headphones? 

According to California Vehicle Code 27400, “a person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears.” 

Since placing headphones or earplugs on both ears may cancel out the outside noise, you will be unable to hear any honks from other drivers nearby. Your non responsive actions could contribute to the cause of an accident. If you are found violating CVC 27400, you will face legal repercussions, which include the following:

  • A fine of $197. 
  • One point added to your DMV driving record. 
  • Possible license suspension if you have gotten 4 points in 12 months, 6 points in 24 months, or 8 points in 36 months. 

You may be granted the option of challenging the ticket, however, you would need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. Your role will be to provide important documentation relating to the accident. Your attorney will assess your evidence to determine what necessary courses of action are needed to pursue.

Once you are given a ticket, you will need to sign a written promise that you will appear in court. If you provide a signature, but fail to show up to court as promised, you will be in violation of California Vehicle Code 40508. Penalties for violating CVC 40508 are being sentenced to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. 

Who Is Excluded From California Vehicle Code 27400?

As previously stated, CVC 27400 is a law that prohibits drivers from wearing headphones or earphones on both ears. We would like to note that you may legally wear an earplug or headset on one ear. 

However, those who are entirely exempt from CVC 27400 including the following:

  • A driver of an authorized emergency vehicle;
  • A person who has on hearing protectors in the shape of ear plugs to reduce noise levels that have the ability to cause ear damage; 
  • A person who is using special equipment to perform construction on the highway; and
  • A person who wears hearing aids.

Other Common Driving Distractions

Wearing headphones or earplugs while driving a vehicle is a major distraction that is bound to result in a disastrous motor vehicle accident. Other common factors that have caused a driver to lose focus or attention of their surroundings include the following.

Texting While Driving

Oftentimes, people immediately will grab their phone once they hear a text notification regardless of what current situation they are in. No text is as important as your safety while you are behind the wheel. We highly encourage drivers to wait until they have reached their destination to look at their text messages.

Using Your GPS

There have been drivers who get lost while trying to find a friend’s house or are delivering a product to a customer. While lost, they will feel compelled to grab their phone immediately to input the other person’s address. This is dangerous as you are no longer putting your focus on the road, but directly onto your cell phone. We urge drivers to park in a safe area where they can input the other person’s address into the GPS without risking the chances of getting into an accident. 

Changing Your Music

It is a given that many people enjoy driving with music on. Typically, drivers will place their playlist on “shuffle” to avoid grabbing their phone to change the song each time one has finished playing. However, if the shuffle feature keeps playing music that the driver is not interested in listening to, it will make them feel compelled to keep changing the song until they find one that they will enjoy. This form of distraction can affect a driver’s attention to the road as they are grabbing their phone and looking down often. 

To prevent this from happening, you should create specific playlists, such as those separated into different genres, to give you a better experience of listening to music without feeling the need to grab your phone to change a song you are not interested in hearing at the moment.

Applying Makeup

Running late to school or work will influence someone to start their makeup routine while driving behind the wheel. We urge drivers to avoid doing this as your chances of getting into an accident will increase. Try to set up a schedule or agenda that will help you squeeze in your makeup routine without having the need to do it while driving in a vehicle. 


It has been noted that many drivers start to daydream while driving. According to a 2018 national study conducted by Erie Insurance, 61 percent of 172,000 fatal car accidents within a 5-year period were caused by distracted driving relating to daydreaming or being lost in your thoughts. This is considered as the most common type of distracted driving that has resulted in a motor vehicle accident. 

To avoid daydreaming or spacing out behind the wheel, we recommend drivers to try new routes to work or school as driving in the same route every day can influence you to zone out quickly. You could also expand your limit of attention to more than just the vehicle that is ahead of you. Try scanning further down the street. This will help you detect any potential traffic issues that could affect you. 

Dealing With a Rowdy Child or Pet

It can be difficult to keep your focus on the road when you have a disobedient pet or child that is not willing to cooperate with you. We suggest training your pet to behave prior to allowing them in your vehicle. You can also hand out some treats or chew toys to keep them from acting out while you are driving. 

With children, it can be helpful to have devices, such as an iPad, ready for them to use as this will help keep them distracted from making any movements or sounds that could affect your driving. 

Eating or Drinking

Eating or drinking while driving can make it difficult for a driver to react to any traffic problems that may directly affect them as they will have either one or none of their hands on the wheel. We recommend drivers to eat prior to leaving for work, school, or other places.

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