Drive hands-free or pay the fee

As most drivers know, texting while driving is against the law in California. Yet the laws go further than texting, and it is worth making sure drivers in the Golden State understand exactly what is–and is not–allowed when they get behind the wheel.

As the Sacremento Bee reports, 2017 marked the beginning of a new state law that bans holding a cell phone while driving for any reason. Not only is texting while driving outlawed, this means it is unlawful to use any apps for music or social media with the device in hand while on the road, and taking photos or video is also outlawed. Phones are able to be used while driving in hands-free mode only, but they must be in a holster mounting on the driver\’s console, dashboard or on the windshield, so drivers who may need GPS to get where they are going are not totally at a loss. Lawmakers hope that this will make it easier for law enforcement officers to pull over drivers who are breaking the law.

The law comes on the heels of reports that 80 percent of accidents are at least partially to blame on distracted driving. Yet a new report from NBC Los Angeles found that the number of citations for cell phone use while driving has been on the decline since 2011. However, there are some law enforcement agencies in the state that conduct undercover operations to issue citations to drivers for being on the phone behind the wheel. At times these include undercover officers riding the bus or dressing up as a person begging for money on the street to observe drivers breaking the law. If caught, a ticket for a first offense is $20, but with penalties, the driver typically pays over $200.

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