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Hands-free law begins Sunday, what does that mean for you?



On November 25th, Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation signifying that no motor vehicle operator may use electronic devices while driving unless the technology is being used hands-free. On February 23rd, the law goes into effect, but will not be implemented fully just yet.

Under the new law, operators of motor vehicles and bicycles cannot use an electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode. Operators cannot read or view text or look at images or video, unless what is being viewed on the device is helping with navigation and the device is mounted in an appropriate location. They also cannot make phone calls unless they are able to do so without holding the phone, utilizing technology such as Bluetooth.

The new law permits the use of electronic devices if they are being used in response to an emergency, necessary for first responders to do their jobs. It also permits use if operators are stationary and not in active lanes of travel.

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.

Punishment for violating the hands-free law includes a $100 fine for a first offense, $250 fine for a second offense and $500 fine for a third or subsequent offense. A third or subsequent offense will count as a surchargeable incident. Operators who commit a second or subsequent offense are required to complete an educational program focused on distracted driving prevention.

Although the law takes effect Sunday, warnings will be issued until the end of March.

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