East Hawaii News

New Law Simplifies Calling While Driving

July 3, 2014, 5:39 PM HST
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The rules for operating a cell phone while driving have changed under a law that went into effect this week.

The new law enacted Tuesday exempts drivers who have pulled over to make a call, as long as the engine is turned off and the car is stopped “in a safe location by the side of the road out of the way of traffic.”

That change was made to clear up a vague aspect of the old law which was often interpreted as being illegal to make a call even while pulled off the road.

The law continues to allow drivers to use hands-free cellphone devices such as Bluetooth, as long as they are 18 or over.

The new law also changed the fine for violations to a flat rate of $250, or $300 if it occurs in a school zone or construction area.

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However, the District Court has added an additional $47 for administrative purposes, bringing the totals to $297 and $347, respectively.

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The fines for minors using a cellphone while driving – with or without a hands-free device – is $247, or $307 if it occurs in a school or construction zone.

Other than the hands-free aspect, the only other exemptions are for drivers calling 911, emergency responders in the line of duty or those authorized to use two-way radios.

Previously, the fines ranged from $100 to $500, depending on the number and frequency of violations.

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Under the new law, the fine remains the same regardless of the number of violations.

The new law also makes violations a traffic infraction, which means the fine can be paid via mail or in person.

Previously, a citation required a court appearance.

In addition to cellular phones, the law applies to laptop computers, video games and any other device involving text except for equipment installed in the vehicle for the purpose of providing audio, navigation or emergency assistance.

The changes to state law were made by Senate Bill 2729, which the governor signed into law as Act 175.

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