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Idaho distracted driving law means tickets starting Friday

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 1, 2021

Associated Press

Associated Press

BOISE – Drivers violating Idaho’s hands-free device, distracted driving law will now risk getting a citation.

The law has been in effect since July 1, but Idaho State Police troopers have been issuing warnings to drivers about the dangers of distracted driving. The citations were issued beginning Friday. Since July, there have been more than 700 warnings issued, according to a news release, Idaho News 6 reported.

The first offense is a $75 fine. Get caught twice in three years and face a $150 fine. The third and subsequent offenses in three years means a $300 fine and could also result in a 90-day suspension of a license.

“There is nothing on your screen that is worth your life or the life of another,” said Lt. Chris Weadick. “ISP and our local law enforcement agencies are committed to keeping Idaho roads safe. The goal is to change driving behavior and save lives, and we urge all drivers to pay attention when they are behind the wheel.”

Troopers say they have seen more drivers using Bluetooth and other hands-free device options, but more education is needed.

According to the Idaho Transportation Office of Highway Safety, 241 people were killed in Idaho in crashes attributed to distracted driving between 2014 and 2018.

The hands-free device law requires electronic devices to be in hands-free mode while driving, including when stopped at a red light or stop sign. Drivers are only allowed to touch devices to activate the hands-free mode and are not allowed to hold or support any electronic device, according to the law.

The law states if a driver receives two distracted driving violations in three years, insurance companies can consider those violations when establishing rates.

“If you’re texting or using a device, you’re not driving,” ISP Sgt. Curt Sproat told KTVB. “For a lot of people, devices have become a habit, but it’s a very dangerous habit when we’re driving. That’s why the law is in place and if a citation is the incentive some drivers need to put the device down and focus on the road, officers now have that option.”

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