Hands-Free – It’s the Law as of Feb. 23

Joseph Coupal - Monday, February 10, 2020

Are your clients aware that holding their cellphone while driving will soon become a surchargeable offense? Effective 2/23/2020, the new “hands-free” law in MA 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. The state has created a downloadable pamphlet you can use to help notify your clients.

DOWNLOAD PAMPHLET: Hands-Free While Driving from mass.gov

This pamphlet provides an excellent overview of what the new law means for drivers under and over age 18, and the consequences they’ll face for breaking the law.

To summarize the key points…

Drivers 18 and over:

Can ONLY use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode

CANNOT touch phone except to activate the hands-free mode or enable GPS, and then ONLY if 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.

CANNOT touch the device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use

Can use voice-to-text communication to electronic devices ONLY when device is properly mounted; use of headphone (one ear) is permitted.

Handheld use is allowed ONLY if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane.

Handheld use is NOT allowed at red lights or stop signs

Drivers under 18 are not allowed to use any electronic devices. All phone use while driving is illegal, including use in hands-free mode.

In an Emergency

Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency. If possible, safely pull over and stop before calling 911.

Contact Lallis & Higgins Insurance for more information.

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