New CA restrictions on cellphone use while driving start Jan. 1 staff via KABC logo
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
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A new California law prohibits any use of a device in the hands while driving, including checking GPS.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Tough new restrictions take effect on Jan. 1, 2017 on the use of cellphones while driving in California.

While texting and calling without a hands-free device were already banned, now the restrictions are expanded to any use of a cellphone in a person's hand while operating a vehicle, including checking GPS or changing songs.

"The new law is you basically cannot hold your phone while driving," said attorney Pascal Benyamini, partner with Drinker Biddle & Reath. "You have to mount it on the center console or windshield and it cannot obstruct your view."

"You can tap it with your finger, swipe with your finger. It's a split second. But you can no longer hold it to look at the navigation to decide where you're going. Or scroll through your music to determine what music you're going to pick. So it's really hands-free."

RELATED: New California laws will raise minimum wage, toughen gun restrictions

Other California laws taking effect in 2017 include expanded restrictions on wage discrimination based on race and ethnicity, as well as an increase in the state minimum wage.

For more on Benyamini's explanation of new laws, see the video above.

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