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Governor Baker Signs Legislation Requiring Hands-Free Use of Electronic Devices While Driving

Published:  December 6, 2019

On November 25, 2019, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law An Act Requiring the Hands-Free Use of Mobile Telephones While Driving, taking effect ninety days after passage.  This law aims to improve the road safety within the Commonwealth and reduce distracted driving by requiring motor vehicle operators to refrain from using electronic devices while driving, unless those devices are hands-free.

Under this law, operators of motor vehicles will be prohibited from viewing images, videos, or reading text on an electrical device while driving, and will be refrained from making phone calls if they are unable to do so hands-free. Based upon these bans, operators will be required to utilize other forms of technology such as Bluetooth to make and receive calls. However, operators are permitted to use the electronic devices in certain situations including using a navigation system (as long as the electronic device is properly mounted), in emergency situations to obtain services or aid, and while the operator is stationary in a car, not in the active lanes of travel.

With the passage of this law, punishments for violations will be assessed in the form of fines. The operator will be issued a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for the second offense, and $500 for a third and subsequent offense. Violators with two or more offenses will be required to complete an educational program that aims to focus on distracted driving prevention, and for the third or subsequent offense it will be viewed as a surchargeable incident. The reporting guidelines within the law will require the law enforcement officer to document the age, race, and gender of the offender who is found to be violating the law. The information obtained from these violations will be housed with the Registry of Motor Vehicles, with the information being release annually to the public.

If you have any questions about the hands-free use of electronic devices while driving, please contact the attorneys at Royal, P.C.

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Massachusetts
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