In 2010, Massachusetts joined the list of 39 states that have placed some sort of ban texting while operating a motor vehicle. The law that was enacted has placed numerous restrictions and harsher penalties on drivers that are operating a vehicle while communicating on a cell phone in an attempt to lower the amount of deaths and injuries caused by distracted driving. In 2010, over 3,000 people were killed in car accidents caused by distracted drivers, and an additional 416,000 were injured.1 The bill states that no person operating a motor vehicle, regardless of age or profession, is allowed to send any sort of electronic message, including text messages, or allowed to use the internet on their mobile device. However, drivers over the age of 18 are permitted to use cell phones for calling purposes and may also use hands-free technology.
Any operator of a public transportation vehicle or anyone considered a ‘novice driver’ (age 16-17) is prohibited from using a cell phone, regardless of if it is hands-free or not, except in emergency situations (which may be proven by phone records which shows the emergency call as evidence). If you are a novice driver and are caught using your cell phone, your first offense results in a suspension of your license/learners permit, a fine of $100 and the required attendance at a course on improving the attitude behind the wheel. The penalties are significantly harsher on the second and third offenses. If the driver is over the age of 18 and caught texting while driving, the first offense results in a fine of $100 with significantly higher fines for future offenses.
Sending or reading an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle in Massachusetts constitutes a surchargeable event which can lead to the loss of your driver’s license. If this occurs, you are entitled to appeal the suspension and you are allowed to be represented by a lawyer at any appeal hearing.