Distracted Driving Awareness Month: What are Rhode Island and Massachusetts’ Distracted Driving Laws and Why Do They Matter?

Did you know that in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, where we practice personal injury law, it is illegal to text while driving? Laws that prevent drivers from holding electronics or texting are considered types of distracted driving laws, and such laws can be found throughout the United States.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, as of July 2023, 34 states have banned handheld electronic usage while driving, and 49 states have banned texting while driving. These laws are in place to prevent people from driving distracted.

At Bottaro Injury Lawyers, we are committed to helping our clients get the compensation they deserve after a distracted driver injures them. Many of our distracted driving clients have been other drivers, bikers, and even pedestrians. Exercise safety and caution both inside and outside of vehicles and call us if you have questions about your potential claim!

Since April is national Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we at Bottaro Injury Lawyers want to help raise awareness about state distracted driving laws and the dangers of texting while driving. We hope this blog article helps keep you and others safe and out of trouble!

Rhode Island Distracted Driving Laws (R.I. Gen. Laws § 31-22-30)

It is illegal to compose, read, or send text messages while driving in Rhode Island.

However, Rhode Island drivers are permitted to use hands-free device capabilities while talking and driving. This means that it is not illegal to answer phone calls on speaker phone or through a car’s Bluetooth system, so long as the driver is not holding the phone (near their mouth or to their ear, for example) while driving.

Rhode Island law also permits drivers to use GPS navigational systems or applications while driving.

So, what are the consequences for texting while driving in Rhode Island?

Drivers who are caught texting while driving could be subject to a $100.00 fine, up to a 30-day license suspension, or both. The more often you violate this law, the bigger the consequences become. A second offense raises the fine up to $150.00 and the license suspension up to three (3) months. A third offense or more could land you a $250 fine, up to a six (6) month suspension, or both.

No one wants to be fined for texting and driving. Certainly no one wants to hurt themselves or others while texting and driving either. To avoid distracted driving, we recommend going beyond Rhode Island law’s requirements. We recommend planning out your GPS course before you get behind the wheel and keeping your hands-free calls to a minimum.

Massachusetts Distracted Driving Laws (Mass. Gen. Laws Ch. 90 §13B)

In Massachusetts, it is illegal to hold an electronic device or use it while driving, unless it is in hands-free mode. In hands-free mode, drivers still may not view texts, images, or videos. Massachusetts drivers may only view a map on a navigation app or system that is properly mounted.

In other words, Massachusetts law is similar to Rhode Island law on this matter.

However, Massachusetts issues harsher penalties on those who break this law. First-time offenders may be subject to a $100.00 fine. Second-time offenders are subject to a $250.00 fine, and must complete a distracted driving educational program. Third-time offenders must pay a $500.00 fine, attend a distracted driving educational program, and are subject to an insurance surcharge.

We recommend planning out your GPS course before you get behind the wheel and keeping your hands-free calls to a minimum, just like we recommend to our Rhode Island drivers. Not only that, but different municipalities may have different, stricter – laws in place as well.

To stay safe – from fines, insurance costs, and mandatory reform courses, as well as physical injuries, avoid cell phone use outside of emergencies!

How Bottaro Injury Lawyers Helps Distracted Driving Victims 

At Bottaro Injury Lawyers, we urge or fellow communities to practice safe driving habits. Such habits include keeping both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. Distracted driving, like texting and driving, forces drivers to divert their attention from the road, potentially causing an accident that may hurt themselves or others.

driver texting while driving in car

As a personal injury law firm, we see firsthand the damages distracted driving can do to a community. Often our clients sustain life-changing injuries that could have been prevented, had the at-fault driver been focused on the road.

When we work with distracted driving victims, we typically review the facts and build a case based on those facts and evidence. We track down witnesses and even foster accident recreation services, if needed. We also typically work with the at-fault party’s insurance company to come to an agreement on what your case – pain and suffering, lost wages, medical bills, etc. – is worth. In short, we help our clients by taking the guesswork and headache out of filing a legal claim against a distracted driver and secure monetary damages that help our clients move on from their injuries and financial hardships.

We hope that this article helps you reflect on your driving practices. Stay safe, and call us to discuss your case, if needed!

It’s Good to Know Mike Bottaro – 24/7 Top-Rated Personal Injury Help

At Bottaro Injury Lawyers, we care for people.  Attorney Mike Bottaro and his award-winning legal team handle all types of personal injury cases throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts.  We can even help on cases in other states as well.  We pride ourselves on our honesty, integrity, and results.  Contact us 24/7 in any method you prefer for a fast, free, and confidential consultation about your case.  Text or call us at 401-777-7777, or fill out our free and confidential online form.  We are here to serve and help you!

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