RI Hands-Free Cellphone Law Takes Effect June 1st

May 1, 2018

Rhode Island drivers will have to put their phones down or risk getting a hundred dollar fine. Starting June first, driving while holding a phone in your hand will be illegal in Rhode Island.

State police said the goal of the new law is to reduce distracted driving. They said drivers will be allowed to use the phone only with a hands-free devices, like a mount inside the car or Bluetooth.

Sgt. Greg Cunningham, of the Rhode Island State Police, said reminders about the upcoming law are already visible on highway message boards.

“And quite frankly there’s been enough crashes, enough damage, and enough injuries because of distracted driving that at this point when the law goes into effect we’re going to enforce it just like any other law,” Cunningham said.

He said first-time offenders face a hundred dollar fine, but there is a way to get the ticket dismissed.

“In the meantime, since getting your ticket and going to court, you are able to purchase some type of Bluetooth device or something that can help you use the phone hands free. Bring the receipt into court and the judge will waive the fee for you,” Cunningham said.

He said the amount of time it takes to send a simple text message while traveling at highway speeds is equivalent to taking your eyes off the road for five seconds.

“And essentially you’re going to travel the length of a football field, and you’re going to crash. If you’re not paying attention, you’re going to crash. We want the roads to be safer. We want people to be safer. And I think this law will go a long way into helping that cause,” he said.

Also, Cunningham said once the law takes effect, driving while holding a cell phone will be considered a primary offense, meaning you can get pulled over just for scrolling through your phone.