Drivers Beware! Rhode Island’s New “Hands Free” Law Goes Into Effect on June 1

Rhode Island has joined 16 U.S. states in passing the “Hands Free” law. Beginning June 1st, it will be illegal for Rhode Islanders to hold their phones up to their ears while driving. Here’s what you need to know:

What is allowed vs. not allowed under the new law?

  • The Hands Free law requires drivers not to listen or talk into the phone with their phones up against their ears.
  • Using your mobile device’s speakerphone and navigation system is acceptable, so long as the device is not in your possession and your hands are on the wheel.
  • Using your phone to accept and decline calls is permissible.
  • Texting or emailing while driving is illegal. The fine is $100 for a first offense, $150 for a second offense and $250 for third and subsequent offenses.

What is the penalty if you get caught disobeying the new law?

Starting June 1, police officers will be issuing $100 fines to drivers who do not obey the law.

The first offense can be waived if you provide the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal proof that you have installed hands-free equipment in your motor vehicle. Many cars built within the past 10 years already have Bluetooth installed. Drivers will need to make it a habit of using a Bluetooth headset, a car mount or a single earpiece/headphone.

According to the Rhode Island State Police, traffic fatalities on Rhode Island roads jumped 63 percent last year (83 deaths in 2017 versus 51 deaths in 2016). Injuries resulting from distracted drivers have also spiked in recent years. This law is being passed to help keep you and those around you safe.

If you have been in an accident due to another driver being distracted, you will need an experienced attorney to be sure you get the medical attention you need, your rights are protected and the party at fault is held fully accountable. Without a personal injury attorney, insurance companies will try to get you to settle for less. Call Attorney Ann Sheeley at 401-619-5555 or Toll Free at 866-435-5000 for a free consultation.

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