Cell Phones & Driving: New Laws in MA, Beware!

In Massachussetts, new laws regarding cell phone use while driving will become effective on Thursday, September 30th, 2010. The Safe Driving Law bans all JUNIOR drivers (drivers under 18 years old) from using their cell phones while driving; for any reason, even with a headset or bluetooth device. The only exception is if a driver uses their phone to report an emergency. This law also bans drivers of any age from texting while driving. This includes reading or sending text messages, e-mails, and instant messages. The law will be strictly enforced and there will definitely be consequences if you are caught, and the penalties will be more serious with each repeated offense.

According to the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV), if a Junior operator is stopped by a police officer for using a cell phone while driving, they will suffer the following consequences:

First offense:
$100 fine and a 60-day license suspension and attitudinal course (you’ll have to take a mandatory course about the risks and implications of your behavior)

Second offense:
$250 fine and 180-day suspension

Third, and following offenses:
$500 fine and 1-year suspension

The RMV stresses that if you must use your cell phone to report an emergency, pull over to a safe area and stop the car before you make the call to the police.

Remember that you have to pay an additional $100 reinstatement fee for any suspension and you will be required to take a written driving test as well as a road test.

Any driver who is 18 or older who is caught using a cell phone improperly (anything that prevents you from having at least one hand on the wheel) will suffer the following consequences:

First offense:
$35 fine

Second offense in 12 months:
$75 fine

Third offense in 12 months:
$150 fine

The fines jump to $100/$250/$500 if the offense involves writing, sending, or reading electronic messages of any kind. Please be cautious and follow the rules of the road. It’s really not just about losing money to fines – it’s about not losing your life or someone else’s life to an accident.