KNOW THE LAW: Hands-free cell phone law goes into effect Sunday

Massachusetts

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Beginning this Sunday, you will only be able to use your phone in hands-free mode while driving, including when you are stopped a red light or a stop sign.

You will be allowed “one-touch” to activate your phone’s hands-free mode but the device must be properly mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a way that does not affect your driving.

Right now, drivers can only hold their phones while talking in the car but cannot text. The new hands-free law makes holding the phone illegal.

Hands-Free Law

What are the new hands-free driving rules?

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

How will officers be handling hands-free while driving law?

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

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 a distracted driving educational program.

Reaction to the new hands-free while driving law:

I hope it will be effective. You know if people want to be in the right when they’re driving they’ll obey the law. How many accidents, how many lives has it costed already?

DAVID LUTHI, SPRINGFIELD

I think the new law is a great thing. I can tell you from experience I am a distracted driver, and I’ve had to fight an innate feeling that when the phone rings, not to pick it up or to pull over to the side of the road.

ANTHONY CENTAMORE, BILLERICA

My truck here, when someone calls me I can talk through my radio and I think that’s the way all vehicles should be.

-Wayne Delaney, Springfield

I see a lot of people staring at their phones, having them in their hands, texting, swerving. A lot of the times you can tell if they’re on their phone if they are in front of you just by the fact they slow down. So, people do get distracted very easily.

John Carroll, Chicopee

I definitely wouldn’t want a $500 ticket so hopefully it will do something good.

Abigail Rivera, Springfield

Social Media: Hands-free while driving

New laws set to take effect in 2020

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