Distracted driving law goes into effect July 1

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A new distracted driving law prohibiting the use of handheld mobile devices while operating a moving vehicle goes into effect July  1.

The bill was signed into law by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb in March, making Indiana the 22nd state to adopt such a measure.

Drivers can only use a cellphone if they are using hands-free technology such as Bluetooth or a phone cradle or if the driver needs to call 911 for an emergency.

Violations can include fines up to $500. Indiana has had a ban on texting while driving since July 1, 2011.

Lt. James Semester, Carmel Police Dept. public information officer, said CPD has traditionally promoted education instead of tickets when enforcing new laws. 

“Generally, officers take the opportunity to stop violators of new laws to explain the law and issue a warning,” Semester said. “After a short time, officers will then begin to issue tickets. As with every law, the goal of law enforcement is voluntary compliance – people following the laws without law enforcement intervention.”

Sgt. Tom Weger, Fishers Police Dept. PIO, said the department has a similar two-week grace period after a traffic law such as this goes into effect.

“Officers will be issuing warnings during that first two-week period, and then after that two-week period they will be issuing citations for that violation,” Weger said. “The officer will need to observe the violation for himself or herself prior to making contact.”

Weger said distracted driving is a common cause of motor vehicle crashes.

“We are hoping this will reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths related to motor vehicles crashes,” he said.


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