It seems pretty well understood that you should not text or talk while driving, however with the full-featured smartphones that we are using these days — that still leaves plenty of other features. You have the option to use your smartphone as a media player and also navigation to name a few. But now it seems that the not talking or texting while driving is turning into a case of do not pick up your phone at all while driving.

Thinking of things in that manner, random feature that you happen to be using aside — holding a phone and looking at a display certainly makes it hard to have your attention on driving and your eyes on the road. The good news here today, it seems I can avoid my own rant on the topic because a California appeals court recently ruled that you can use your phone while driving, however it needs to be completely hands-free.

Simply put, you must use (or learn to use) the hands-free features on your phone in order to be in compliance with the law. That could be as simple as voice controls or as deep as actually integrating your smartphone into your cars system so you can use the steering wheel or on-dash controls to make adjustments. How you choose to proceed is up to you, but in this case, this ruling stems from an incident that happened in January 2012.

In this instance it seems a driver was pulled over for using the GPS on his phone while driving. We should clarify, he was holding the phone in this instance. Said driver then challenged the ticket citing that the law specifically mentioned texting and talking while driving. Needless to say, if you are in California you can now expect to get a ticket for using any feature on your phone while you are driving (if you are holding your phone). For those outside of California, regardless of whether you can get a ticket, it is still not a safe thing to do.

[via SlashGear]