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20 Things You Need to Know Before the Hands-Free While Driving Law Goes into Effect


Inside Cambridge Police Patrol Car

We are 20 days away from the new hands-free law in Massachusetts, in which operators of a motor vehicle will not be able to hold a mobile electronic device. Here are 20 things you need to know before the law goes into effect:

1)    Effective February 23, 2020, operators must use a cell phone/mobile electronic device only in hands-free mode

2)    No operator shall read or view text, images or video displayed on a device

3)    Text messages may be directed to recipients and composed by voice-only

4)    An operator may listen to audio responses from their device

5)    An operator may touch their phone once in order to put it in hands-free mode

6)    A vehicle operator may view a map generated by a navigation system or an application on a device, but the device must be mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the vehicle.

7)    An operator may hold or view a device if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the public way intended for travel by a motor vehicle or bicycle. This does not permit using a device while the vehicle is stationary in a travel lane (e.g. stopped at a red light, bicycle lane, waiting in traffic, double-parked in the road)

8)    There are no changes for operators under 18; junior operators were already prohibited from using devices except in emergencies

9)    Calling EMS, police, fire, or other emergency services or reporting a crash or disabled vehicle may be done with a device

10)  Police will only issue warnings for hands free violations between February 23rd-March 31st

11)  Before March 31st, Officers may continue to issue fines for reading electronic messages or texting (i.e. prior distracted driving ban)

12)  The penalty for the 1st offense is $105

13)  The penalty for the 2nd offense is $255

14)  The penalty for the 3rd offense is $505

15)  Operators with 2nd and subsequent offenses will also be required to attend a Registry of Motor Vehicles distracted driving program

16)  3rd and subsequent offenses will trigger insurance surcharges

17)  Most modern smart phones have voice-to-dial capability. Use this when driving so that you won’t need to look at or touch your phone to make a call

18)  If your car has bluetooth, take the time to set it up with your vehicle

19)  14% of all deadly crashes in the United States involved the use of a cell phone

20)  Passengers are not impacted by the new hands-free law

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Cambridge Police Department

Branville G. Bard, Jr.
Police Commissioner

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Cambridge MA 02142