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RI Hands-free Driving Law Takes Effect June 1, 2018

Rhode Island has passed a new hands free law while driving. The law takes effect on June 1, 2018. Drivers will no longer be able to hold their phones while driving. Drivers are still allowed to talk on the phone, however, they must use a hands-free device.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s website:

What is not allowed: Drivers will not be able to hold a cell phone or other wireless device while operating a vehicle. The use of headphones or other accessories that cover both ears also is not allowed.

What is allowed: Drivers will be able to use in-car or other hands-free systems or accessories.

How does it work: If a police officer observes you holding a phone and talking or texting while driving, you will be pulled over and may be fined.

Why: Distracted driving caused by use of personal electronic devices is a growing problem, leading to needless deaths and serious injuries.

When: The law takes effect on Friday, June 1, 2018.”Rhode Island State Police Colonel Ann Assumpico said “With education and enforcement, there’s no question this new hands-free law will save lives. We will do our part to ensure motorists understand and abide by the new law, which will make our roads safer for everyone.” Signs have been posted throughout the State advising residents of the new law. Signs have also been posted along the State’s boarders to advise drivers from other states. The State Police will be using extra cruisers as well as unmarked cars to enforce the new law. State Police Sgt. Greg Cunningham advice is, “Leave the phone alone, It’s that simple.”

According to Karen Macek, spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association, the hands free policy is only the first step, and must be enforced to change people’s behavior. “What we’re trying to avoid is those ‘gotcha’ moments,” Macek said. “We want people to think, ‘Hey, I can get caught at any time. I shouldn’t do this.'”

Punishment for breaking the new law varies depending on the number of infractions. According to the new law first time violators: “shall be subject to a fine of one hundred dollars ($100), or a license suspension for up to thirty (30) days, or both.” Second time violators “shall be subject to a fine of one hundred fifty dollars ($150), or a license suspension for up to three (3) months, or both.” Third time violators “shall be subject to a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250), or a license suspension for up to six (6) months, or both.”