Hands-free law takes effect in Idaho Wednesday


Idaho’s new hands-free cellphone law, which requires people to put their electronic devices in hands-free mode while driving, goes into effect Wednesday.

The new law applies even when drivers are stopped at a red light or stop sign. It essentially bans holding a cellphone while operating a vehicle, a news release from the Idaho State Police said.

The law is intended to “address safety concerns associated with a significant portion of distracted driving crashes,” the news release said.

The law applies in every city and county in Idaho. Troopers, officers and deputies will issue warnings from Wednesday to the end of 2020. Citations can be issued beginning Jan. 1, 2021. The law preempts all local ordinances in cities that already had hands-free rules.

One in five crashes in Idaho have a distracted driver as a contributing factor. Between 2014 and 2018, 241 people were killed in Idaho in crashes attributed to distracted driving, the release said.

The law requires drivers only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free modes. Drivers can only touch devices to activate hands-free mode. Drivers are not allowed to hold or support any electronic device or phone, the release said.

Activation of GPS, voice-to-text and making and receiving calls are permitted with one-touch or voice command. Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, or in the event of an emergency, the release said.


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