Massachusetts officials today issued a reminder to motorists that the hands-free law goes into effect this Sunday, February 23rd. The new law is intended to reduce the number of people injured or killed because of distracted driving, and levies penalties that will be enforced by local and state police.
The new law, An Act requiring the hands-free use of mobile telephones while driving, stipulates that operators of motor vehicles cannot use an electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode. Operators cannot read or view text, images or videos, unless what is being viewed is helping with navigation, and the device is mounted in an appropriate location. Motorists also cannot make phone calls unless they can do so without holding their phones, by utilizing technology such as Bluetooth. The law also requires law enforcement officers to report data on violations that will be shared with the public.
The use of phones and all electronic devices, including phones in hands-free mode, remains illegal for drivers under the age of 18.
Punishment for violating the hands-free law includes a $100 fine for a first offense, a $250 fine for a second offense, and a $500 fine for a third or subsequent offense. Operators who commit a second or subsequent offense are required to complete an educational program focused on distracted driving prevention. A third or subsequent offense will count as a surchargeable incident.
“The Massachusetts State Police and local police departments will roll extra patrols to kick off enforcement of the Hands-Free law,” said Colonel Christopher S. Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police. “But our hope is that all drivers will comply with this important law and keep their eyes on the road and their hands on the wheel. There is nothing on your screen that is worth your life or the life of another.”
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