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'Hands-free' texting while driving gets OK from Gov. Jerry Brown

July 13, 2012 | 11:25 am

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Three years after the state banned motorists from texting while driving, Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday approved an exception to the rule in recognition of improved voice-operated technology.

Brown announced Friday he has signed 18 bills into law, including AB 1536, which allows drivers to dictate, send or listen to text-based communications as long as they do so using technology specifically designed to allow voice-operated and hands-free operation.

Assemblyman Jeff Miller (R-Corona) introduced the measure to extend the same "hands-free" exception to texting that already exists for using a cellphone while driving.

"I can relate to the frustration of many Californians who were unable to communicate with friends, family and business partners while driving because it is currently against the law to operate text-based functions while driving," Miller said, adding his bill "will allow Californians to communicate safely and responsibly while on the road." The law takes effect Jan. 1.

The governor also signed AB 1047, which prohibits motorcycle checkpoints that single out a specific type of motorist for law enforcement.

Brown also approved SB 1342, which increases, from $3 to $10, the maximum  fee that a county can place on the recording of certain documents, with the extra money going to pay for real-estate fraud investigations and prosecutions.

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-- Patrick McGreevy in Sacramento

Photo: California motorists, starting Jan. 1, will be able to use texting devices if they are voice-operated. Credit: Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Times

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