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Idaho Enacts Hands-Free Cell Phone Law to Reduce Distracted Driving

In Idaho and across the country, distracted driving — principally due to use of cellphones and other handheld devices — has become the chief cause of traffic accidents, many of them deadly. In response, Idaho has enacted a law that makes it illegal for drivers to use such devices unless they are voice-command operated.

The new law, which took effect on July 1, 2020, applies not only to cellphones but to any “electronic device that is used to initiate, receive, or display communication or information.” Drivers are prohibited from manually operating these devices except when the car is parked or pulled to the side of the road. This includes such activities as:

  • Texting
  • Entering an address into a GPS
  • Sending emails
  • Watching videos
  • Changing music

The only exception allowed is performing these activities in a voice-operated or hands-free mode, meaning that the driver “does not use his hands to operate the device, except through one-touch activation or deactivation of a feature or function.”

Violators of the law will be subject to a $75 fine for their first offense and a $150 fine for their second offense within three years. For the third offense within three years, drivers face a $300 fine and could have their license suspended for up to 90 days.

Police will not begin issuing tickets until January 1, 2021. During this grace period, drivers seen using their phones will be given a warning and an educational pamphlet about the risks of distracted driving.

If you were hurt in a car accident in Idaho and you suspect the other driver may have been using a handheld device at the time, you may be entitled to recover damages. Following these steps can help build your case:

  1. Contact the police — Call 911 immediately to request police assistance at the scene. The officer can document evidence and take statements that can support your case.
  2. Photograph the scene — Although the police officer will file a report, you should if possible take photos of the crash scene and of any damage to the vehicles involved. You should also obtain the insurance and contact information of other drivers involved.
  3. Seek medical care — Even if you don’t notice any immediate injuries, it is crucial to obtain a medical examination immediately after the accident.
  4. Talk to an attorney — As soon as possible, contact an experienced auto accident lawyer who can guide you through important decisions regarding insurance claims and potential litigation.

At Morgan Law Firm, we represent victims of Idaho auto accidents, including those caused by drivers using handheld devices. Call 208-999-1717 or contact us online to schedule a free case consultation. We have office locations in Boise, Meridian and Middleton, Idaho.

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