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texting while driving goes from illegal, to confusing and illegal, in California.

Texting while driving is one of those things I’ve ranted on here about before. Namely, yes you’re probably stupid for doing it, but not as stupid as the ones making it illegal. Mostly, because you can’t actually legislate common sense. but, also, because really, the idiots more likely to not pay attention to the road because they’re texting or talking on the phone are the same idiots who won’t pay attention to the road because they’re talking to the guy or girl beside them, or flipping stations on the radio, or, hell, just being an outright tool–and we’ve yet to outlaw those things. But now, in California, they’ve decided just making it illegal isn’t good enough. So they’ve made it confusing as hell instead.

Now, it’s legal to text while driving–if, and only if, the texting while driving is done completely hands free. Meaning dictation software is perfectly okay. Which, yeah, okay, makes sense. So you could use, for example, Siri to send a text to your girlfriend to have her meet you outside because you’re a block away, right? Well, uh, rather, um, no not really.

On Friday, after much head-scratching and acknowledging nobody in Miller’s office owns a Siri-equipped iPhone 4S, the assemblyman’s aides concluded it will still be illegal to use your actual phone to text behind the wheel — even by speaking the message directly into Siri.

The California Highway Patrol confirms that just the act of turning on the phone or selecting the phone’s hands-free text app, like pushing the Siri button or Google apps on Android phones, is enough to warrant flashing lights in your rearview mirror and a $100-plus ticket. The same thing goes for using your phone to read texts.

“The phone can’t be in your hands,” said CHP spokeswoman Jaime Coffee. “Hands-free is the key.”

So it’s now legal to text someone as long as you do it hands free in California. But the act of slapping the phone in hands free mode (activating Siri) so you can actually send that hands free text? Yeah, pull over. There really aughta be a law against tools in the legislature.

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