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Cellphone Driving: From $20 to Jail Time

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Using your cell phone after July 1st could get you a $20 ticket (up to $100 in LA County after fees and the such). But if you cause an accident that ends in someone's death, a misdemeanor manslaughter charge could come with that, resulting with a year in jail for each death, reports the LA Times. That's because driving while talking on a cell phone (except for when using a hands-free device) can more easily be proved as negligence because of the law. Before, lawyers had to prove that the cell phone use was negligent.

Although using a cell phone will be illegal, the most distracting part (unless you're a crackberry expert) will still be lawful. From the CHP's cell phone driving FAQ sheet:

Q: Does the new “hands-free” law prohibit you from dialing a wireless telephone while driving or just talking on it?
A: The new law does not prohibit dialing, but drivers are strongly urged not to dial while driving.

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Q: Does the new “hands-free” law allow drivers 18 and over to text page while driving?
A: The law does not specifically prohibit that, but an officer can pull over and issue a citation to a driver of any age if, in the officer’s opinion, the driver was distracted and not operating the vehicle safely. Text paging while driving is unsafe at any speed and is strongly discouraged.

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