Hands-Free Law to ban phone use starting Feb. 23
The Massachusetts Hands-Free Law will go into effect on Sunday, February 23, and Acting Police Chief John Walcek said he is hopeful it will cut down on distracted driving.
The new law makes it illegal to hold, look at, or use a mobile electronic device while driving except for in hands-free mode. Touching devices while driving is only allowed to activate or deactivate the hands-free mode. Using devices while at a red light is not allowed.
Looking at a device is only allowed if the driver is using it for navigation and the device is affixed to the vehicle -- meaning a built-in GPS or a cell phone mounted to the dashboard.
The only exceptions to the law are for first responders or those who are calling 911, although drivers are encouraged to pull to the side of the road before calling 911 if it is safe to do so.
Penalties for violating the law are fairly steep: The first offense will bring a $100 fine, the second will bring a $250 fine and a mandatory educational course, and the third and subsequent offenses will bring a $500 fine, an insurance surcharge, and an educational course.
“We see it every day,” Walcek said of distracted driving. “The law is clearly intended to make the road safer. The law is saying this is inappropriate and you shouldn’t do it. Clearly, it’s a safety issue.”