LOS ANGELES (CBS) — While it is still officially illegal to text or email while driving in California, there’s now a high-tech catch.

Lawmakers in Sacramento just updated the rules to allow hands-free texting while driving, reports Carter Evans for CBS2 and KCAL9.

While it doesn’t matter what device you use as long as it can take dictation and read text back, you can still get pulled over for distracted driving.

Take an experienced tip from CHP Officer Andre de Los Reyes, who has seen it all behind the wheel: De Los Reyes says he doesn’t have to see what you’re doing inside your car to know if you’re distracted.

“Applying make-up, shaving, brushing their teeth even,” he said.

State Assembly member Jeff Miller from Orange County sponsored the voice texting bill, citing that since Californians spend so much time on the road, it’s not fair to keep them out of touch for too long.

Miller says this new law “will allow Californians to communicate safely and responsibly while on the road” thanks to technology.

Not everyone is so sure.

“Even though it may be less distracting than typing, it’s still a distraction and you can still have accidents,” said motorist Samantha Harper.

Dr. Richard Krop agrees and says he always pulls over when he needs to text or talk. Early on in his career, he saw many distracted drivers end up in hospital emergency rooms.

“It’s a matter of just missing something over a split second,” he said. “Someone hits the brakes ahead of you and you’re not paying attention, that’s all it takes.”

Last August, a young driver who was charged with killing an elderly pedestrian in Glendale while she was texting pleaded no contest to gross vehicular manslaughter.

According to a survey released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in June, 58 percent of high school seniors said they had texted or emailed while driving during the previous month.


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