This may interest some of you who might wear an ipod when you ride. I do in some situations (mainly around here in pacifica when i'm not in traffic).
A few weeks ago I was cited under CVC27400 while wearing my iphone headphones. Fine amount: $174. I'm going to challenge this ticket, first by written declaration and then in person if that fails. It is my contention that the police have been citing people under this for years even when they shouldn't be. Here's what the law actually says:
A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplugs in, both ears. This prohibition does not apply to any of the following: (deleted various exceptions for emergency vehicle operators, etc. since this won't factor into my case)
The actual prohibition is against wearing of "headsets" that cover the ears (like earmuff type ear protectors), or earplugs that go into the ear. One assumes the reason for this prohibition is that both of these items are designed to block out outside sounds and therefore make it hard for the driver/rider to hear emergency vehicles and other things we are supposed to be listening to.
The officer wrote on my ticket "cvc27400 wearing headphones". Does the law mention headphones? No, it doesn't. Do ipod headphones block out outside sound? No, they don't and aren't designed to. (there are such headphones on the market though: noise cancelling types). They do not form a seal around the ear canal and one can easily have a conversation with them in place and hear whatever is going on around him. I suspect they block out a few db at most.
Now, you say, what if you turn on and crank up the volume on the ipod: wouldn't that be blocking out other sounds? Perhaps, in the same way turning on one's car stereo would. But the law does not mention this at all. It is clearly only outlawing devices which in themselves are designed to keep sound from reaching the ear by either covering the ear or plugging it. It doesn't mention speakers or "phone" or anything of the sort. If the legislature wants to outlaw such things, they need to write a law about it.
Well, that'll be my argument anyway. Wish me luck...