BOSTON (AP) — A law that bars drivers in Massachusetts from using hand-held cellphones behind the wheel takes effect Sunday, but motorists won’t immediately face a fine if they’re stopped by police.
The law signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in November brings Massachusetts in line with every other New England state.
Texting while driving had already been barred in the state, but now drivers won’t be allowed to talk on or dial their phones unless they have a hands-free device. They won’t be allowed to look at pictures or videos unless it’s to help with navigation and the phone is properly mounted, according to a state police video that explains the law.
And no, checking your phone at a red light is not OK. That’s also barred. Drivers who need to use their phones are required to pull out of an active travel lane and stop, according to authorities.
Cellphone use is allowed to report an emergency.
Under the law, violators will get a warning at first. But that grace period ends April 1, and after that the first offense will mean a $100 fine, the second a $250 fine, and subsequent offenses a $500 penalty.
Multiple infractions could also mean car insurance surcharges.
The law also requires the Registry of Motor Vehicles to collect data from traffic stops, including the driver’s age, race and gender, without identifying the driver, to help identify police agencies that may be engaging in racial profiling.