iPhone 4S Siri use when driving in Cali is illegal

Well now, if you are residing in the state of California and use your iPhone 4S when driving and happen to take advantage of the Siri voice assistant whilst at the wheel you could well find yourself in trouble with the law, as apparently using Siri when driving in the state is still considered illegal because it isn’t completely hands free.

According to an article over on 9to5 Mac by way of Mercury News, Lt. Chris Monahan of the San Jose police department says, “It’s legal to talk to Siri, as long as the phone’s not in your hand. But if you have to push the phone to activate her, or if you ask for directions and she puts them up on her screen for you to read, then California’s hands-free law says you’re breaking the law.”

Apparently motor vehicle code, section 23123.5 states, “a person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communication device to write, send, or read a text-based communication.”

It appears the problem with using Siri on your iPhone whilst driving is you still need to use your finger to hit that home button to activate the voice assistant, and then of course there’s more finger work when using Siri and this is where it falls foul of Cali law.

However, D.J. Sarabia, a spokesperson for the California Highway Patrol says if you ask, “ten of us in law enforcement and you’ll get ten slightly different interpretations. I’d say that holding down the start button for two seconds until she comes on probably doesn’t violate the law. But then it’s one of those subjective things that in the end a judge will have to rule on.”

Apparently a spokeswoman for Apple referred questions about Siri to Apple’s website but added that the Siri voice assistant can also be activated via a Bluetooth device or headset.

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Trent Cross says, “You shouldn’t be using Siri or playing with your lap dog or putting on makeup while you’re driving. Lives are lost when people get distracted. That’s why we highly discourage drivers from doing anything except driving while they’re driving.”

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