A bill aimed at increasing safety on the roads co-sponsored by state Rep. John Frey (R-Ridgefield) which was signed into a law this summer by Gov. M. Jodi Rell will take effect October 1.
“Technology is a profound advancement, but when used irresponsibly it is exceedingly hazardous. We send a strong message with this strengthened law – that the state will have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to texting while driving and using hand-held phones,” Rep. Frey said.
Public Act 10-109 makes a number of changes and additions to our current laws governing the usage of mobile devices in vehicles. The new law makes texting while driving illegal. It also increases fines for talking on a cell phone without using a hands-free device while driving. The fines now stand at $100 for the first offense, $150 for the second offense and $200 for subsequent offenses. It also ends the policy of giving first-time violators a waiver if they buy a hands-free device.
“When the ban on hand-held cells phones first became law, an individual receiving their first ticket merely had to show evidence that they purchased hands-free equipment and the ticket was waived. We did that to help ease in the law and give everyone the benefit of doubt,” Rep. Frey said. “But the law has been in affect now for a number of years and the ban on holding a phone while driving is well known. A special exemption for first-time offenders is no longer warranted.”
“Putting a premium on keeping our roads as safe as possible is a prudent move by the legislature, and I’m pleased to have co-sponsored this legislation,” said Rep. Frey. “While the many benefits of modern technology have enriched our lives is many ways, the temptation to use a mobile device while driving a motor vehicle must be resisted for the safety of all those who use our roadways.”
Connecticut’s new law was designed to assist municipalities imposing these fines—25 percent of the fine goes to them for enforcement efforts acknowledging that most of the tickets are issued by municipal police deportments.
As with the law against using hand-held cell phones while driving, the texting ban does not apply in emergency situations or to any of the following people while performing their official duties: peace officers, firefighters, ambulance and emergency vehicle drivers, or members of the military when operating a military vehicle.