As of June 1, 2009, a law went into effect prohibiting drivers of all ages from using a handheld wireless communication device to read, compose or send a text-based communication or electronic mail communication while operating a motor vehicle in this state. Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions concerning the law.
Q: What defines a handheld wireless communication device?
A: Handheld wireless communication device" means a handheld device used for the transfer of information without the use of electrical conductors or wires and includes a: wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, pager, or text messaging device.
Q: Will there be a grace period when motorists will only get a warning?
A: No. The law went into effect June 1, 2009. Whether a citation is issued is always at the discretion of the officer based upon his or her determination of the most appropriate remedy for the situation.
Q: Are passengers affected by this law?
A: No. This law only applies to the person driving a motor vehicle.
Q: Do these laws apply to out-of-state drivers whose home states do not have such laws?
Q: Can I be pulled over by a law enforcement officer for using my handheld wireless device?
A: Yes. A law enforcement officer can pull you over just for this infraction.
Q: What is the penalty if convicted of texting while operating a moving motor vehicle?
A: A judge may order a suspension of a person's license for a period of three months under Section 41-6a-1716, upon a conviction for a violation of the prohibition on using a handheld wireless communication device for text messaging or electronic mail communication. There are other penalties as well - criminal homicide if a person causes the death of another while texting as well as class C or class B misdemeanors and these call for fines and imprisonment.
Q: What if I need to use my handheld wireless device during an emergency?
A: The law allows a driver to use a handheld wireless communication device to make emergency calls to a law enforcement agency, a medical provider, the fire department, or other emergency services agency.