BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — There's a new hands-free driving law now in effect in Massachusetts.
Drivers are no longer allowed to hold a cell phone behind the wheel for any reason, except for in an emergency situation.
Texting and driving was banned in Massachusetts in 2010, but officers found it hard to enforce since it was nearly impossible to know whether drivers were texting, or using GPS, or scrolling social media. With the new law, drivers with a phone in their hand could face fines, distracted driver education programs, and more expensive insurance rates.
Until March 31, police officers will only issue a warning for a first offense. After that, first offenses get a $100 fine, second offenses get a $250 fine, and subsequent offenses get a $500 fine. A third violation will also prompt a surcharge on a driver's insurance.
However, the rules differ depending on a driver's age.
Drivers 18 years or older are allowed to touch their device in order to activate hands-free mode or GPS, but only while the phone is mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the vehicle. Voice-to-text is allowed if the phone is properly mounted, and the use of a single headphone is permitted too.
Drivers under the age of 18 can not use a cell phone at all, even in hands-free mode.
Handheld use is allowed if the vehicle is stopped and not in a public travel lane. Cell phone use is not allowed at red lights or stop signs.
(Photo credit: Governor Baker/Twitter)