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Idaho hands-free cell phone law goes into effect July 1

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Beginning Wednesday, July 1, 2020, a new law meant to keep drivers engaged while behind the wheel goes in effect.

The new Idaho State Code 49-1401A  requires electronic devices be in hands-free mode while driving, including when stopped at a red light or stop sign. In other words, with few exceptions, the new hands-free device law makes holding a cell phone illegal while operating a vehicle.

The new law, HB 614 is intended to "address safety concerns associated with a significant portion of distracted driving crashes."

"Education of motorists is key," Director of the Idaho State Police Col. Kedrick Wills said. "Idahoans want to be responsible and to be good drivers. This law is another way to remind all of us we need to pay attention to the road when we're behind the wheel. As law enforcement, we can remind drivers with education or enforcement. We're starting with what we prefer, education."

EDUCATION FIRST

This law applies in every city and county throughout the state. Troopers, officers and deputies will issue warnings from July 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. Citations can be issued beginning January 1, 2021.  

WHAT DRIVERS NEED TO KNOW

  • Drivers can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode;
  • Drivers are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode;
  • Drivers are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone;
  • Activation of GPS, voice to text, and making or receiving calls is permitted with one-touch or voice command;
  • Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, or in the event of an emergency;
  • Drivers are not allowed to touch a device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use;
  • Should a driver receive two distracted driving violations in three years, the new law states insurance companies can consider those violations when establishing insurance rates for a driver.

"We're in this together, every motorist on the road. Our lawmakers have seen the need to give law enforcement in every jurisdiction, cities, counties and the state, a greater tool to ensure traffic safety. But the greatest power lies with each individual motorist who gets behind the wheel and makes the conscious decision to be engaged while driving," Col. Wills said.

PENALTY

  • 1st offense - $75 fine
  • 2nd offense within three years - $150 fine
  • 3rd and subsequent offenses within three years - $300 fine. Three offenses in three years can also lead to a license suspension of up to 90 days.

DEADLY DISTRACTIONS

Idaho drivers are encouraged to SHIFT their behavior and focus on engaged driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving remains a danger, and over the past decade has morphed from random incidents to a persistent and dangerous problem.

  • 241 people killed in Idaho in crashes attributed to distracted driving between 2014 and 2018.
  • In 1 in 5 crashes in Idaho, distracted driving is contributing factor.

"Things can go wrong very quickly when you take your eyes off the road for even a few seconds. Sadly, Troopers come across crashes where the driver's decision to use a mobile device resulted in life or death consequences. Anyone who has seen, been involved in, or is tasked with responding to these crashes understands this law addresses safety for every single one of us who drives on our roadways," Col. Wills said.

A STATEWIDE STATUTE

The new ISC 49-1401A  will preempt all local ordinances in relation to hands-free driving. In 2012, the legislature passed a law that prohibited texting. This statute will be repealed once House Bill 614 takes effect July 1.

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Comments

2 Comments

  1. This statement: “Drivers are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode;”

    Just made it easy to get off probably without an attorney. I have my phone in my hand, I am stopped…..”officer, I was just turning on bluetooth.” DONE…..The law says I am allowed to do so.

    Who writes these laws, some idiot in a mental ward?

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