Governor Deval Patrick today signed legislation that bans text-messaging for all Massachusetts drivers, prohibits junior operators from using cell phones and institutes new license renewal procedures for mature drivers, among other provisions.
Under the new law which takes effect in October, any driver caught composing or reading a text message can be cited and fined $100. Operators of public transportation vehicles who violate the ban will be subject to a $500 fine. Law enforcement will have the authority to stop any driver suspected of texting. However, the offense will not be considered a moving violation and will not be subject to an insurance surcharge.
Drivers under 18 cited for using any type of cell phone or mobile electronic device with or without a hands-free feature will be subject to a $100 fine and a 60-day suspension of their driver's license. Offenders will also have to complete a driver attitudinal course before their license is reinstated. Massachusetts is the 29th state to ban dangerous driving behavior.
The MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicles will also require any driver age 75 or older to renew their license in person at an RMV branch or office location and undergo a vision test every five years. The division will also develop standards to help law enforcement, health care providers and families better assess a driver's ability to handle a vehicle safely.
Additionally, under the new law, any driver who acrews three or more surchargeable incidents within a two year period will be required to take a driver retraining and safety course or face the suspension of their license.
This comprehensive legislation is the result of significant input and support from advocates for safe roads and safe driving including AAA, Safe Roads Alliance, and members of the Safe Roads Now Coalition, along with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and other elder services advocates.
MassDOT RMV Division serves more than 4.6 million drivers at 30 branch locations and online at www.mass.gov/rmv.