With the beginning of 2016, California enacted new laws affecting the day-to-day operations of California residents. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are reminding everyone that several of these laws will directly affect transportation. SB 491 (Earbuds & Headsets) is one notable law that makes it illegal to wear a headset covering, earplugs in, or earphones covering, resting on, or inserted in, both ears, while operating a motor vehicle or a bicycle. (This law does not apply to persons operating authorized emergency vehicles, construction equipment and refuse or waste equipment while wearing a headset or safety earplugs.)
Below is a full description on the 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. This prohibition does not apply to any of the following:
- A person operating authorized emergency vehicles, as defined in Section 165.
- A person engaged in the operation of either special construction equipment or equipment for use in the maintenance of any highway.
- A person engaged in the operation of refuse collection equipment who is wearing a safety headset or safety earplugs.
- A person wearing personal hearing protectors in the form of earplugs or molds that are specifically designed to attenuate injurious noise levels. The plugs or molds shall be designed in a manner so as to not inhibit the wearer’s ability to hear a siren or horn from an emergency vehicle or a horn from another motor vehicle.
- A person using a prosthetic device that aids the hard of hearing.