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2017 Law Bans Drivers From Holding Phone While Driving

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Road trip selfies, on-the-go playlist changes, and re-centering Google maps: starting Jan. 1, doing any of these things while driving a vehicle will be illegal.

Under Assembly Bill 1785, California drivers will be prohibited from using their phones unless the device is mounted on the dashboard or windshield or is in voice-activation mode.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB1785 into law in September. Violators must pay a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 for each subsequent offense.

The new law does not apply to emergency services professionals such as police and firefighters while "using an electronic wireless communications device while operating an authorized emergency the course and scope of his or her duties."

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 80 percent of vehicle crashes involve some sort of driver inattention; up to 3000 people nationwide are killed in crashes where driver distractions are involved; and talking on a mobile phone or texting is the most common source of driver distractions.

Liza Xu said the new restrictions will take some getting used to. "That's impossible because I would have to tie my hand to the side and not touch it. I drive a lot, and I have to use the phone. So I don't know if I'm going to be able to drive in 2017," she joked.

Since many newer vehicles have hands-free calling built in, Cristina Cruz said the new law is not a big deal.

"I just don't see how they're going to enforce it. It seems a little silly. Texting and driving okay. But having it in my hand, it's a little much," Cruz added.

Louis Gomez drives a stick shift. So he could not even hold on to his phone in the first place.

"I think it's a good law. But it will definitely take some time for us to get use to it," Gomez said. "I can see how people can actually forget about it because we've been doing it for so long."

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