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Can you update Facebook while you drive?

You know that the law in California stops you from making phone calls without using a hands-free device. You know that you're not allowed to text while you drive.

But what about other online activities? Maybe you're not texting, but just updating your Facebook status. Maybe you're not calling, you're just uploading a picture to Instagram. Smartphones are essentially computers; phone use laws that just address texting or calling seem outdated.

That's what lawmakers thought, as well. As of January of this year, they changed the law to prohibit anything that you can do on your phone that might be a distraction. There are no more gray areas. You can use a hands-free system -- dictating what you would be typing, for instance -- but that's it.

Distractions are very common. You could be looking on your phone's hard drive for a specific song, or you may be searching the internet for the perfect playlist for your road trip. You may be programming in a new destination with your GPS system. You may be taking a selfie while you drive to tell people where you're going.

All of this has now been outlawed. If you're pulled over and the officer accuses you of texting and driving, you can't get out of it by saying you were using Facebook or the GPS. You're still in violation of the new law.

This is important to understand because many drivers don't pay all that much attention to updates to the law. These distracted drivers could cause an accident and injure you, and they'd be at fault. If that happens, you need to know all of your legal options.

Source: The Orange County Register, "Social media, selfies will be no-nos after new distracted driving law takes effect," Jessica Kwong, accessed Oct. 05, 2017

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