RI Drivers: “Hands-Free Law” Effective Today, June 1st

Texting-Driving-Female-1-300x225Each year, thousands of people die in distracted driving accidents. All too often, these accidents are caused by cell phone use. As of today, June 1, 2018, a new Rhode Island law goes into effect banning the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. If you are already in the habit of not using a cell phone at all while driving, or using a hands-free device, you are ahead of the game. However, for the 600,000 or so others that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations projected used a cell phone while driving in 2017, this is a new habit that will need to be learned quickly. At the RI personal injury law firm of Tapalian Law, we know that distracted driving often leads to severe injuries, including death.

What Does the New “Hands-Free Law” Mean for Rhode Islanders?

As Rhode Islander drivers, we know this law has been in the works for a while. Now that June 1st has arrived, what exactly does this new law mean for those driving in Rhode Island? Drivers may still use cell phones while operating a vehicle, but they must be used in a hands-free capacity. Hands-free equipment may be a headset, earbud attachment, or a hands-free system installed within the vehicle. The following rules apply to RI drivers while the vehicle is in motion:

  • Holding a cell phone to talk or listen is against the law.
  • Drivers may however, touch their phone to accept or reject an incoming call or to end a call.
  • It is not against the law to engage the map and navigation apps on a cell phone.
  • Texting or using email while driving is currently, and remains, illegal in Rhode Island.

There are exceptions to the hand-held and texting laws which include use of a handheld device to seek assistance in an emergency situation.  There are also some professions which are exempt to these laws including on-duty law enforcement officers, firefighters, ambulance and emergency vehicle drivers.

What Happens if You Are Caught Breaking the “Hands-Free Law”?

Under this new law, first-time offenders may be given a $100 penalty. However, the first-time penalty may be waived if the offending driver shows proof to the Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal, of a hands-free equipment purchase like a headset or earbuds. As Rhode Island personal injury lawyers who work with car accident victims on a daily basis, we hope this new law will see a big decrease in incidents of distracted driving. So many of our clients are hurt in auto accidents as a result of distracted driving caused by cell phone use.


We do know that Rhode Island police officers will be strictly enforcing this new law in hopes of creating a safer driving environment.

Contact a RI Personal Injury Attorney if You Have Been Hurt in an Accident

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016. These fatalities are preventable. In addition, hundreds of thousands of people are injured in distracted driving car accidents each year. Auto accident injuries may include brain injury, broken bones, loss of limbs, and countless other injuries both minor and severe. Serious injury may require life-long medical care and nursing assistance as well as future surgeries resulting in exorbitant medical expenses as well as lost wages for those no longer able to work or unable to work in the same capacity as prior to the accident. If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident by a distracted driver, you should not be left struggling. Contact an experienced RI and MA auto accident lawyer like David Tapalian to help fight for the compensation you deserve. Tapalian Law has helped countless Rhode Island and Massachusetts clients seek the compensation they are entitled to for their injuries due to car accidents, dog bites, slip and fall accidents, and workplace accidents. When choosing an injury lawyer for your personal injury case, it is important you choose an injury attorney with auto accident personal injury experience, like Tapalian Law. With offices conveniently located in Providence, RI, and Seekonk, MA, we will meet with you to discuss the details of your injury case and start fighting for you immediately. Call Tapalian Law today at


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