Massachusetts bill to ban phoning, texting while driving dies

| 8/11/2008

The regular session recently wrapped up in Massachusetts without lawmakers approving a bill that called for prohibiting drivers in the state from talking on hand-held cell phones and text messaging while driving.

The bill – H4477 – remained in a Senate committee when the session ended July 31. The House approved it early this year. The bill sought to make it a primary offense for drivers to use hand-held mobile devices for talking or texting while behind the wheel. The distinction would have allowed law enforcement to pull over drivers without another reason.

The legislation permitted talking on a phone equipped with a hands-free accessory. Drivers still could have used their hands to dial and hang up the phone, as long as they used an earpiece or speakerphone during their calls.

Drivers older than 18 found in violation would have faced $100 fines. Repeat offenders would have faced $250 fines, and subsequent violations could have resulted in $500 fines.

New teen drivers with junior operator licenses also would have been prohibited from using hands-free devices. Youngsters found in violation would have faced fines and the suspension of their licenses.

It also would have allowed for a one-time $600 insurance surcharge for all violators on a first offense.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Massachusetts in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor