This law is a significant change for drivers 18 and over and traffic enforcement as well. The new law (Chapter 122 of the Acts of 2019) prohibits operators of motor vehicles from using any mobile electronic device, including a cell phone, unless the device is used in hands-free mode.
Drivers 18 and over are:
- Not permitted to hold or support any electronic device
- Only permitted to touch devices 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
- Not permitted to read or view text, images, or video displayed on a mobile electronic device; however, a driver may view a map generated by a navigation system or application on a mobile electronic device that is properly mounted
Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All device/phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.
Penalties 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
Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, the operator should safely pull over and stop before calling 911.