Hands Off That Phone While Driving!
We usually don’t think about summer being a particularly active time for our state government, but many laws do go into effect during the summer. Specifically, July 1 is the effective date of several big changes in our laws including the hands-free driving law that we wrote about several months ago. This new provision has been widely publicized, but now that it is in effect, drivers need to abide by it or possibly pay a fine. This means changes in driving behaviors are needed because they have now become illegal. It is important to remember that the hands free law was enacted because using phones, emailing and texting is so dangerous to drivers and to all others sharing the road.
The new “Hands Free Law” is extensive and prohibits drivers from holding a phone while driving. A driver can only use a phone for making and receiving calls using a wireless headphone, an earpiece or bluetooth in their vehicle. Touching a phone to make or answer a call is allowed as is GPS. Calls on electronic watches are permitted as are use of GPS on these devices.
A headset can only be used to speak on the phone. Listening to music using headphones is not allowed. Drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, unless the text is dictated. The new law prohibits a driver from writing, sending or reading a text message, an email or any things else that is web based. Videos are not allowed, unless it is for navigation.
It is permissible to use a phone to report a crash or other emergency. It is also permissible to use a phone when parked, but NOT at stop lights or stop signs.
Distracted Driving Causes Fatal Crashes
The increase in serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents compelled this new law. According to law enforcement and other experts, many of these crashes are due to distracted drivers. Statistics in other states with similar laws have resulted in a drop of fatal accidents by about 16 percent just in the first two years. This number increases as the public gets used to driving hands free.
Enforcement of the new law will likely be slow and steady. There are likely to be warnings, rather than fines to start with, but fines will eventually be imposed and they are significant amounts.
Other New Laws Took Effect July 1
Other new laws include one that allows local governments to restrict fireworks using general noise ordinances. Those who sell fireworks are required to use signage that informs buyers about potential local restrictions. Signage is also required to remind buyers that fireworks can be traumatic for those who have served in the military and animals.
Another new law makes it mandatory that schools screen and review and assess children between pre-school to third-grade students prior to any type of suspension that is five or more days. This does not include acute situations involving firearms. Finally, another law imposes a felony punishment on anyone who exploits the elderly for their own gain.
Scholle Law hopes that all our readers have a healthy and safe summer. In the event that you need legal advice about an accident or injury, please contact our law firm for a free evaluation. We are here to help those injured or harmed, with tenacity and compassion for our clients.