By Josh Resnek
Driving while holding a cell phone has just been outlawed in Massachusetts.
Making a call or texting with a cell phone while driving is now illegal – and according to the State Police, the law will be enforced on the State’s highways.
Local police departments will also be implementing policies to enforce the law, which was signed into effect Monday afternoon at the State House by Governor Charlie Baker.
This means that all Everett drivers using cell phones while driving on the city’s many streets will be subjecting themselves to possible enforcement by the Everett Police Department.
Exactly what form of enforcement the department will outline has not yet been publicly discussed by the leadership of the EPD.
However, it is believed Police Chief Steven Mazzie will be scrupulous and pro-active in enforcing this new law intended to reduce the number of accidents and highway deaths and pedestrian fatalities caused by distracted cell phone users trying to dial on their phones and drive at the same time.
Under the new law, Everett residents, and residents of the state who drive will no longer be able to make calls while operating their motor vehicle, unless they do it hands free.
Drivers are allowed to view maps generated by navigation systems as long as the electronic device is mounted on the car’s windshield or dashboard.
There will be a $100 fine for the first offense, a $250 fine for a second and fines of $500 for subsequent offenses. Police will not be allowed to take drivers’ cell phones under the new law.
To make sure there is no racial profiling on the part of police enforcement of this new law, the Registry of Motor Vehicles will be collecting data on each traffic citation.
The new law goes into effect in 90 days.
Distracted drivers will receive a grace period with a warning until March 31, 2020.
After that the fines start.
How police expect to enforce the new law is a bit of a conundrum according to law enforcement officials.
About 90% of drivers carry cell phones. The percentage using them while driving is high but undetermined.
Strict enforcement will cut down cell phone use while driving – but so many people are using cell phones while driving that total enforcement is an impossibility.
There just aren’t enough police or hours in the day to ticket every driving cell phone user.