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Calif. court ruling effectively bans all hands-on use of mobile phones while driving

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When it comes to cell phones and driving, “no” really means “no” in California.

PC Magazine reports that a recent state superior court ruling has effectively banned the use by drivers of any of the functions available on a wireless phone, including the reading of directions, if it requires them to pick it up.

A driver ticketed last year for holding his phone while using a GPS application challenged the citation, arguing that the language of the state’s “cell phone ban” law that went into effect in 2008 was specific to voice calls and texting.

According to the lawsuit, the legislation states, in part, that “a person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”

But the court decided that the law was intended to apply to all functions of a mobile phone, not just communications, even though other potentially distracting electronic devices that do not fit the description of “wireless telephone” are not also covered by the law.

The ruling, written by Judge W. Kent Hamlin, goes on to suggest that the California legislature address the issue, by either banning the “hands-on” operation of all electronic devices while driving, or specifically allowing their operation for functions other than making phone calls and sending text messages.

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