Hands-free cell phone law goes into effect in February

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Springfield Police Department wants to remind you that the new Hands-free Cell Phone Law will be going into effect in Massachusetts on Sunday, February 23rd.

The law will apply to both drivers and bicyclists.

According Springfield Police Spokesperson Ryan Walsh, a common misunderstanding is that if you are at a red light or a stop sign you can pick up your phone, but that is not true. You can be pulled over and potentially cited if your phone is in your hands at any time while you are operating a motor vehicle. Police Officers will be able to use cell phones in their official capacity.

Officers will be able to issue warnings from February 23rd to March 31st. Tickets will be able to be issued beginning April 1st.

Drivers who are 18 and over:

  • Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode
  • Are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode
  • Are 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
  • Are 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, 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

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.

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