Perhaps the largest cause of distracted driving in Massachusetts is texting and other cell phone use. Laws regarding cell phone use change from state to state. It’s good to have a grasp on these laws pertaining to driving in Massachusetts.
Cell Phone Use
There is no cell phone prohibition for drivers except that “junior operators” in Massachusetts – drivers those under the age of 18 with a learner’s permit or provisional license – are prohibited from using cell phones (handheld or hands-free) while driving.
The junior operator prohibition on mobile electronic device includes mobile telephone, text messaging device, paging device, PDA, laptop computer, electronic equipment capable of playing video games or video disks or can take/transmit digital photographs or can receive a television broadcast. Mobile electronic device does not include any equipment permanently or temporarily installed to provide navigation, emergency assistance or rear seat video entertainment. Reporting an emergency is the only exception. Drivers are encouraged to pull over and stop the vehicle to report the emergency.)
- 1st offense-$100, 60 day license suspension & attitudinal course
- 2nd offense-$250, 180 day suspension
- 3rd or subs offense-$500, 1 year suspension
All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. That means that drivers cannot use any mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to write, send, or read an electronic message including text messages, emails, and instant messages or to access the Internet while operating a vehicle. The law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic.
- 1st offense-$100
- 2nd offense-$250
- 3rd or subs offense-$500
Bus drivers are prohibited from using any cell phone (handheld or hands-free) and, as with all drivers, they are prohibited from texting while driving. Bus drivers can be fined $500 for using cell phones while driving.
Massachusetts’s text messaging and cell phone laws are considered “primary” laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation. Read more about Massachusetts’s distracted driving laws.