Banning phone use while driving is all the rage these days -- despite evidence suggesting it doesn't help -- and now California's the latest to join the bandwagon. The law, which goes into effect January 1, 2008, requires the use of a hands-free device when chatting behind the wheel, lest some Erik Estrada type pulls you over and slaps you with a $20 fine. Repeat offenders get their fine upped to $50, but apparently has no adverse effect on the driver's insurance premium; we suspect a sizable number of Californians are going to view an occasional $50 chat with a CHiP as more of a price of doing business than a deterrent (but then again, maybe that's the idea). And no, being parked in LA traffic won't count as an exemption.

[Via Autoblog]

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California to go hands-free in the car