It’s the Law Starting February 23, 2020
The new “hands-free” law in MA now makes it illegal for motor vehicle and bicycle operators to hold any electronic device or phone, including when stopped at red lights or stop signs! All devices must be properly mounted and can only be used in hands-free mode. Penalties start at $100 and go up to $500 PLUS mandatory distracted driving education AND an insurance surcharge.
Mass.gov/handsfree outlines the following key points:
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.
Drivers who are 18 and over
- Can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.
- 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.
- 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 or a bicycle 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 you are interested, the actual text of the act which amends Mass. General Laws c.90 § 13 by St.2019, c. 122, §§ 7-8, can be found at: https://malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2019/Chapter122.
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