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Hands-free ordinance grows teeth Friday


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK)-Idaho’s “hands-free” law took effect in July, but beginning Friday, Janaury 1, violators risk receiving a citation.

Idaho State Police troopers have been working to educate drivers to the dangers of distracted driving.  They have issued more than 700 warnings to motorists.   As a result, they say they see more drivers using Bluetooth and other hands-free device options. 

"There is nothing on your screen that is worth your life or the life of another," said ISP Lt. Chris Weadick. "ISP and our local law enforcement agencies are committed to keeping Idaho roads safe. The goal is to change driving behavior and save lives, and we urge all drivers to pay attention when they are behind the wheel."

Between 2014 and 2018, 241 people were killed in Idaho crashes that were attributed to distracted driving. In fact, ISP says distracted driving is a factor in 1 of every 5 crashes in the state.

Now that the law is being strictly enforced, drivers could face penalties:

1st offense - $75 fine, with court costs = $131.50

2nd offense within three years - $150 fine, with court costs = $206.50

3rd and subsequent offenses within three years - $300 fine, with court costs = $356.50

Three offenses in three years can also lead to a license suspension of up to 90 days.

And, ISP offers this advice to drivers:

*If you are expecting a text message or need to send one, pull over and park your car in a safe location. Once you are safely off the road and parked, it is safe to text

* Designate your passenger as your "designated texter." Allow them access to your phone to respond to calls or messages

* Activate your phone's "Do Not Disturb" feature, or put your cell phone in the trunk, glove box, or back seat of your vehicle until you arrive at your destination if you are struggling not to use your device while driving.

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