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California Cellphone Law Changes Sending Drivers To Accessory Stores

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A new cellphone law has the California Highway Patrol cracking down on drivers.

As of Sunday, drivers can no longer hold their cellphone while driving – the phone has to be mounted on their windshield or their center console, and drivers are only allowed to tap or swipe on their phone.

John Stephen just heard about the new hands-free device law.

"It's a lot easier holding my phone in my hand," Stephen admits.

He often uses his cellphone to get directions while he's driving, and since the new law just took effect, Stephen decided it's time to get a car mount.

"It's got a suction cup, it's on the windshield and off to the side, so when I use it, I just tap my finger and that's it," Stephen explained.

Holding a cellphone while driving is a problem California Highway Patrol officers face every day.

"Every day people use their phone, and as soon as they notice us, it automatically drops," said Officer Chad Hertzell.

So how will the new law be enforced? CBS13 went on a ride-along with CHP to find out.

"Whether it's texting, talking, GPS -- you have to have it mounted somewhere in your vehicle," said Officer Hertzell.

Hertzell says drivers have no more excuses when they get pulled over, but the only time drivers can hold their cellphone while driving is when they are calling 911 during an emergency.

Hertzell adds "anytime you are inputing anything into it, it's against the law while driving other than swiping."

Using your cellphone at a stop sign or a red light is also something CHP officers are screening for.

The new law isn't just causing a spike in CHP patrols; one accessory store in Sacramento is seeing a huge increase in car-mount purchases.

"Right before Christmas we got a huge sale in people coming in wanting to buy this for others," said Paul Simon, co-owner of Mobile Accessories USA.

Simon says he has been ordering double the amount of car mounts every two weeks, just to keep up with the demand.

"They'll come in and say 'I want a car mount', and they are looking for certain styles for their phone," Simon added.

Although Simon is making a big profit because of the new law, he says he's just glad drivers are taking their safety on the road more seriously.

Drivers violating the law for the first time could be fined at least $162. Every violation after that carries at least a $285 penalty.

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