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New Massachusetts Hands Free Cell Phone Law

Anyone who has ever been stuck in stop-n-go traffic or at a red light has seen countless people on their phones either talking, texting or emailing. When the light turns green, and the car in front of you doesn’t move, 9 times out of 10 it’s because the driver is distracted by their phone and not paying attention.

In an effort to crack down on distracted drivers, Massachusetts recently passed a new law known as the “hands-free” driving law. If the vehicle is on a public way, then the driver must be hands free of their device. There is no exception if you are sitting in traffic or at a red light. The only exception is if there is an emergency that you are reporting such as an accident or medical issue.

Under the new law drivers cannot touch or hold their electronic device, namely a cell phone, unless they are using a single tap or swipe to answer a call, end a call, or activate the voice audio. Drivers are prohibited from reading or viewing any text messages, images, or videos on their phones with the exception that drivers can still use navigational maps if the phone is mounted to the windshield, dashboard, or center console. A driver will no longer be able to hold their phone in their hand while following their navigation though.

If you are stopped for a first offense, you are looking at a $100 fine. If you are stopped for a second offense, then you are looking at a $250 fine and will have to take a distracted driving program. If you are stopped for a third or subsequent offense, you face a $500 fine, have to take a distracted driving program, and it will count as a surchargeable incident which could add points to your insurance and increase the cost of your insurance policy.

The start date is Feb. 23, which is 90 days after being signed into law. However, there will be a grace period through March 31, meaning drivers will get a warning for their first violation until April 1. Beginning on April 1, 2020, you will be issued a traffic citation under the new law if are not using your phone hands-free. If you receive a traffic citation, you can appeal it. On the back of the citation, there is a box to check which allows you to request a hearing before a Clerk Magistrate. After you check the box, sign and date the citation. Make a copy of the citation- front and back- then mail the citation to the address listed on the ticket along with the $25 fee. The citation must be mailed within 20 days of the date you received it. If you do not appeal within that time, then you cannot appeal your ticket!

A few weeks later, you will receive a notice from the court with the date and time of your hearing. Upon your receipt of the notice, contact us at Sweeney & Associates with the date and time of the hearing. At the Clerk Magistrate hearing, the officer or trooper who wrote the ticket will not appear. Only the police prosecutor will be present and he or she will describe the ticket to the Clerk. We have been very successful winning ticket appeals at this stage and will discuss the strategy for your particular case with you prior to the hearing based on the relevant facts.

Contact us at Sweeney & Associates today for a free consultation. We help people fight all sorts of traffic citations from speeding to failure to stop to operating an unregistered/ uninsured motor vehicle. Call us today if you received a traffic citation and want to fight your ticket. We can be reached at (617) 328-6900 or mail@rsweeneylaw.com.