The Wilmington Police Department wishes to make the community aware that the Massachusetts Hands Free Law will go into effect on Sunday, February 23. 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.
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.