Hands-Free Driving Law Goes into Effect Sunday Feb. 23

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Massachusetts drivers can face a fine of up to $500 for violating the hands-free law, beginning Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020.

The law aims at preventing drivers from being distracted by their cellphones while driving. This includes not only texting while driving, but also talking on the phone while holding the cellphone or dialing manually. Driver’s cannot even hold a phone while driving, even if not using it, and can only touch it to put it into hands-free mode.

Navigation apps can be used allowed, if a phone is mounted.

Massachusetts ranks in the 10 worst states for distracted drivers, Gov. Charlie Baker said, according this Boston Globe article.

Drivers also cannot look at images on their devices, except for navigation apps.

The law applies not just when a vehicle is in motion, but also when stopped at red light.

See more information provided by the Mass. Department of Transportation:

Hands-Free While Driving. It’s the Law. February 23

Fines Up To $500

Massachusetts law prohibits operators of motor vehicles from using any electronic device, including mobile telephones, unless the device is used in hands-free mode.

The “hands-free” law is effective as of February 23, 2020.

Penalty for violating the hands-free law:

  • 1st offense – $100 fine.
  • 2nd offense – $250 fine, plus mandatory completion of a distracted driving educational program.
  • 3rd and subsequent offenses – $500 fine, plus insurance surcharge and mandatory completion of distracted driving educational program.

What does this mean for me?

Drivers who are 18 and over

  • Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.
  • Not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.
  • Cannot touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode and can only enable when the device is installed or properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle.
  • Not allowed to touch device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use.
  • Activation of GPS navigation is permitted when the device is installed or properly mounted.
  • Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane or a bicycle lane, but is not allowed at red lights or stop signs.
  • Voice to text and communication to electronic devices is legal only when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.

Drivers who are under 18

  • Are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, safely pull over and stop before calling 911.

See more from MassDOT on hands-free driving by clicking here.

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