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Questions In Need of Answers

Today, I woke up with some burning questions that need answers. Rather than Google, I thought: Why not put them to the neatoramanaut community, who've got to be smarter than Google's algorithms, right?

So here goes:

1. The other week, I saw a small plane crash into the 405 Freeway near Long Beach. When I went to take a photo of it, a CHiPs on foot pulled me over and gave me a ticket for using my phone while driving. I said, "Well, I'm using the camera, so it's not a phone at this point. Is there a law against pulling out my DSLR and taking a picture while traffic is basically stopped?" He said no, but there is a law about operating a motor vehicle without a hands-free device. QUESTION: If I dispute this ticket, will I win? Or is just my word against his?

2. When you cut a 12-hour Sudafed in half, do you only get 6 hours of sinus relief, or do you still get the full 12 hours, but only at half the strength? Anyone? Anyone?

3. Anyone own a BMW 3-series wagon? Thinking of buying a used one for my wife. Like a 2006 or 2007. Any advice? Good/bad? Pitfalls? Thanks all!

You'll have to find the state law and read it yourself... There might be some loophole that you can exploit. However, the law more than likely simply states something to the affect that if you are using a cellular device with the car running then you can be ticketed. As for the pill thing, as Jeff above said, it depends on the time release mechanism. By cutting it in half you will end up with either half the dose being released over 12 hours or half the dose immediately digested and absorbed into your system. As for the BMW, your best bet is to search google for "service bulletins" and the like for your particular car. The main thing is it is a BMW and BMW parts cost more than parts for a Ford, Nissan, Chevy, Honda, etc. So chances are when you do brakes or anything else on the car it will cost more than most other brands.
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1. If you already saw the plane crash why would you need to take a photo of it? It's already recorded in your brain and you can call it back whenever you wish to see it. Sounds redundant to me.

2. Cutting crosswise or lengthwise? SUDAFED® 12 Hour or SUDAFED® 12 Hour Pressure+Pain? Time is relative anyways. Do not try to cut the pill. That's impossible. There is no pill.

3. Yes.
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Some pills are designed to be able to be split, and they do sell pill splitters just for that purpose. My significant other has a prescription which requires her to split pills so designed (the pills come in splittable units of 1, 2, and 5, her prescription is for 8.5/day, so it requires multiple pills, some split).

Time-release or extended release pills, however, should not be split, for exactly the reason Jeff suggested. There are different extended release mechanisms, and splitting does different things to them. Dumping the entire dose at once is one potentially dangerous possibility.
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Your cell phone did not stop being a cell phone while you were using it to take pictures. I would think the law states you cannot use your cell phone device while operating a motor vehicle & that's what you were doing. The law doesn't differentiate between using your phone in any specific manner such as to: make calls, text, snap photos, download new songs or surf the internet, etc.

I think the only deciding point might be whether you were moving or not. If you were stopped because of traffic or a light, you could argue that you were not actively operating your vehicle but even then, your attention should be on the road & when the traffic would move again & NOT on your cell phone device.

If I were the judge, I'd probably have to side with the cop.
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  3 replies
Hey, I took a picture of that same plane crash, using my iPhone, but I was going the other way on the 405 - traffic was moving more rapidly and there weren't any CHP officers on our side of the road. However, your picture is superior to mine. It's the cost of access.
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2. 12 hour Sudafed has 120mg of pseudoephedrine released across a time span that will have lasting effects of 12 hours. Regular immediate release Sudafed tablets have 30mg, but you can take 1 or 2 tablets and the effect last about 4 to 6 hours. So if you cut the 12 hour tablet, even though you destroy the extended release mechanism, it still will be the same as taking 2 tablets of regular Sudafed (60mg) which will last about 6 hours.
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BMW: I would check the reliabilty records of the BMW 3 series. ( I don't suspect that there will be much difference for a sedan as opposed to the wagon.) Parts/service can be expensive. If you could still get a Honda Accord wagon in N. America ... I think it would be the better buy.
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1. I advise you to go to court, as inconvenient as it is. I have been to court many times (in California) to fight speeding tickets. Something you may be able to take to court to help you is the EXIF data from the photos on your phone, match those times to the time on the citation in an attempt to prove you were using the device as a camera not a phone. In the court, it'll be you, the cop, and the judge. So it's a three-way conversation and you'll only have a couple minutes to clearly convey your purpose.

2. Don't know.

3. I prefer MINI (basically a small BMW). But, having been around, and in, many 3, 5, and 6-series. I can say this: the newer the better!
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1. It is worth it to go to court. Often times, the police are so short staffed, that they blow off court appearances for traffic fines to do real "cop work". Otherwise, you are hosed. Even if you use your phone with speaker, the fact your hands were on the phone, makes it illegal.

2. Sudafed - you get half the results for the 12 hours. These pills operate on how much is submitted to your stomach/bloodstream to tell the cells how much to decrease swelling, mucous production, and other symptoms. If you take half, you get half as much relief. Good news is that you can also take another half after 6 hours because the total dose is the same after a 12 hour period.

3. BMW - not sure - never owned that type of car. All I can say is get a car fax, and a quote on insurance BEFORE you buy.
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It's still a phone, the end.

Your pharmacist will advise not to.

Go over to the forums at I own an e46 and got/get great info over there. They're is lots of info they can share about what to look for etc even before you buy. HIghly recommended (I registered here just so I could answer this).
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About the phone: The law is not totally settled, but here's what I can tell you definitively.

Simply reading the statute doesn't answer the question. Oversimplifying slightly, it prohibits driving "while using a wireless telephone." (Veh. Code, § 23123.) Does that mean while using the telephone *as* a telephone?

People v. Spriggs (2013) 215 Cal.App.4th Supp. 1 held that using a phone as a GPS unit while driving violates the statute. It explained: "The statute . . . focuses on the distraction a driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone, specifically including 'the physical distraction a motorist encounters when either picking up the phone, punching the number keypad, holding the phone up to his or her ear to converse, or pushing a button to end a call.' That distraction would be present whether the phone is used for carrying on a conversation or for some other purpose."

Spriggs is a decision of a very low-level court (Fresno Superior Court). Other state courts could disagree. But they probably won't. While Spriggs is not binding, it *is*persuasive. In other words, a judge probably won't want to waste the time or energy to redecide the issue.

My non-lawlerly advice: Assert the First Amendment. Argue that the statute is unconstitutional to the extent that it prevents you from making a record of a newsworthy event.
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