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Jul 06

Texting and Driving - The Law

Posted on July 6, 2014 at 12:22 PM by Jeffrey Rudinski

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This is being posted since WPD regularly receives questions about Texting and Driving laws. Please read and share.

1. Ch 90/8M- Use of a Mobile Phone or Mobile Electronic Device by a Junior Operator Civil Offense- No Surcharge (A "mobile electronic device" is any hand-held or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing data communication between two or more persons, including, without limitation, a mobile telephone, a text messaging device, a paging device, a personal digital assistant, a laptop computer, electronic equipment that is capable of playing a video game or digital video disk, equipment on which digital photographs are taken or transmitted or any combination thereof, or equipment that is capable of visually receiving a television broadcast; provided, however, that mobile electronic device shall not include any audio equipment or any equipment installed, or affixed, either temporarily or permanently, in a motor vehicle for the purpose of providing navigation or emergency assistance to the operator of such motor vehicle or video entertainment to the passengers in the rear seats of such motor vehicle.) Reporting an emergency is the only exception. Drivers are encouraged to pull over and stop the vehicle to report the emergency.

  • 1st offense-$100, 60 day license suspension & attitudinal course
  • 2nd offense-$250, 180 day suspension
  • 3rd or subs offense-$500, 1 year suspension
2. Use of a Mobile Phone by a Public Transport Motor Vehicle Operator Civil Offense-No insurance surcharge
  • $500 assessment each offense
3. Use of a Mobile Phone by a Public Transport Non-Motor Vehicle Operator Civil Offense-No insurance surcharge (MBTA Trolley)
  • $500 assessment each violation
4. Improper Use of a Mobile Phone by Operators 18 and Over
Civil Offense-No insurance surcharge (One hand must be on the steering wheel at all times and no use of device can interfere with driving)
  • 1st offense-$35 assessment
  • 2nd offense in 12 months-$75 assessment
  • 3rd offense in 12 months-$150 assessment
5. Sending/Reading Text Messages
Civil Offense-No insurance surcharge (Operators cannot use any mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to write, send, or read an electronic message including text messages, emails, and instant messages or to access the Internet while operating a vehicle. Law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic.)
  • 1st offense-$100
  • 2nd offense-$250
  • 3rd or subs offense-$500
6. Negligent Operation & Injury from Mobile Phone Use
Criminal Offense- Insurance surcharge

JOL Suspensions
  • 1st offense-180-day suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent offense within 3 years-1 year suspension
  • $500 reinstatement fee
Over-18 suspensions
  • 1st offense-60-day suspension
  • 2nd or subsequent offense within 3 years-1 year suspension
  • $500 reinstatement fee
Additional Suspensions
The law repeals the current suspension for 5-surchargeable incidents in a 3-year period and replaces it with a new suspension for 3 surchargeable incidents in 2 years. Violations with an incident date on or after 9/30/2010 can be factored into the new suspension calculation. However, older violations will still be considered a basis for operators that accrue 7 surchargeable incidents. Similar to the current suspension process for 5 surchargeable incidents, operators will have 90 days from the suspension notice to complete a National Safety Council course to avoid going into suspension.