Wilmington Police Remind Residents That Hands Free Law Goes Into Effect On February 23

Below is a press release from the Wilmington Police Department:

WILMINGTON, MA — The Wilmington Police Department wishes to make the community aware that the Massachusetts Hands Free Law will go into effect on Sunday, February 23, 2020. Under the new law:

  • Drivers can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode and are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.
  • Drivers are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.
  • Drivers 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.
  • Drivers are 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.
  • Operators may use a cell phone to call 911 to report an emergency.

Penalties

There will be a grace period to give drivers time to be made aware of the law. First time violators will receive a warning for a violation through March 31. Effective April 1, 2020 the following penalties will be assessed:

  • $100 fine for the first offense
  • $250 fine for a second offense, plus the violator must complete a distracted driving educational program
  • $500 fine for third and subsequent offenses, plus the violator will incur an insurance surcharge and will be required to complete a distracted driving educational program.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What do I do if I don’t know how to use the hands-free feature on my phone?
    • A simple internet search should give you some instructions. You can also visit your local wireless provider and they can show you how to use the hands-free features on your phone.
  • I own an older car that does not have Bluetooth capabilities. How can I use my phone while driving?
    • If your vehicle does not have Bluetooth capabilities, you may use a single earbud/headphone or purchase a Bluetooth adapter for your car. Bluetooth adapters can be purchased at most electronics stores and many online retailers.
  • I frequently use the GPS on my phone while driving. Can I still use this feature?
    • Activation of a GPS application on a mobile electronic device is allowed as long as it is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console. You cannot search for an address while operating the vehicle.
  • Do I have to be in hands-free mode if I am stopped at a red light?
    • Yes. A driver is only considered not to be operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is stationary and not located on a public way where motor vehicles and bicycles travel.
  • Will I get an insurance surcharge if I get a citation for a Hands-Free Law violation?
    • Violators will be assessed an insurance surcharge for their 3rd and any subsequent offenses.

Hands-Free Driving

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