New law cracks down on hand-held device use while driving

  • Monday, July 10, 2017 3:40pm
  • News

A new state law toughens up existing distracted driving rules, which only prevented texting and holding a phone to the ear, goes into effect July 23.

Under the new law – the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics (DUIE) Act – drivers are forbidden to use any hand-held device behind the wheel, even at a stop light.

Violation of the DUIE Act will now be considered a moving violation like speeding. It is also a primary offense, so police are free to pull a driver over just for using a hand-held device. A first-time DUIE offense will cost a driver $136. For the second DUIE offense, the fine jumps up to $235.

Unlike current law, which exempts cellphone violations from being reported to insurance companies, all violations will be available to insurance companies.

Some details:

• Drivers may not use hand-held devices while they are driving, stopped in traffic, or at a stoplight. This includes tablets, laptops, game or other hand-held electronic devices. Drivers may not watch videos while they drive.

This does not apply if a driver is contacting emergency services.

Drivers can use hand-held devices when they are pulled over out of the flow of traffic.

• Hands-free use, such as through Bluetooth, is allowed as is a single touch to start a function. Start GPS or music before you drive.

• You can get a $99 ticket for other types of distractions such as grooming, smoking, eating or reading if the activity interferes with safe driving and you are pulled over for another traffic offense.

• Some things are not included in the law. Transit and emergency vehicle drivers are exempt. Drivers of commercial vehicles must follow federal laws.

Two-way radio, citizens band radio or amateur radio equipment are not included in the law.

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