Shrewsbury Police Department to increase enforcement of Hands-Free Law

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Shrewsbury Police Department to increase enforcement of Hands-Free Law
Shrewsbury Police Department (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – The Shrewsbury Police Department will be putting extra officers on the street throughout April to enforce the Hands-Free Law, which prohibits the usage of cell phones while driving.

The funding for the extra officers is funded through a 2024 Municipal Road Safety Grant.

The initiative will include plain-clothed officers walking along streets to report violations to nearby officers in marked cruisers, according to a release from the Shrewsbury Police Department. The program aims to stop “distracted driving,” which includes texting while driving and other cell-phone usage.

Distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021.

Under the Hands-Free Law, drivers under 18 years old may not use a mobile device, including any texting or phone calls, even if the device is in hands-free mode (like Bluetooth). This includes when drivers are stopped in traffic. Penalties start at a $105 fine, 60-day license suspension and a state-mandated driver attitude course.

For drivers over 18 years old, only hands-free use is allowed; holding the device or viewing it – including reading texts – is prohibited, even when stopped in traffic. Penalties start at a $105 fine, with additional offenses resulting in further fines and attending a distracted-driving course.

Exceptions to violations include emergency use to call for assistance, navigation devices if they are affixed to the vehicle (not handheld), and the one-touch rule (to activate hands-free feature).

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