Massachusetts Text Messaging and Cell Phone Laws

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Except for novice drivers and bus drivers, there is no prohibition on cell phone use while driving in Massachusetts. However, all Massachusetts drivers are prohibited from texting.

Cell Phone Use

There is no cell phone prohibition for drivers except that "junior operators" in Massachusetts - drivers those under the age of 18 with a learner's permit or provisional license – are prohibited from using cell phones (handheld or hands-free) while driving.

For Junior Operators: The junior operator prohibition on mobile electronic device includes mobile telephone, text messaging device, paging device, PDA, laptop computer, electronic equipment capable of playing video games or video disks or can take/transmit digital photographs or can receive a television broadcast. Mobile electronic device does not include any equipment permanently or temporarily installed to provide navigation, emergency assistance or rear seat video entertainment. Reporting an emergency is the only exception. Drivers are encouraged to pull over and stop the vehicle to report the emergency.)

  • 1st offense-$100, 60 day license suspension & attitudinal course
  • 2nd offense-$250, 180 day suspension
  • 3rd or subs offense-$500, 1 year suspension

Texting Laws

All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. That means that drivers cannot use any mobile telephone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to write, send, or read an electronic message including text messages, emails, and instant messages or to access the Internet while operating a vehicle. The law applies even if the vehicle is stopped in traffic.

  • 1st offense-$100
  • 2nd offense-$250
  • 3rd or subs offense-$500

In June, 2012, in one of the first tests of the anti-texting law, a Massachusetts teenager was sentenced to two years in jail (and loss of his license for 15 years) after a court convicted him of 'motor vehicle homicide by texting'. The case arose after the teen's car crossed a divider and struck a truck killing the driver, a father of three. 

Bus Drivers

Bus drivers are prohibited from using any cell phone (handheld or hands-free) and, as with all drivers, they are prohibited from texting while driving.

How is it Enforced?

Text messaging fines are $100 (first offense), then $250, then $500. Fines for novice drivers are as above, plus graduated license suspensions. Bus drivers can be fined $500 for using cell phones while driving. Massachusetts’s text messaging and cell phone laws are considered “primary” laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation.  Read more about Massachusetts’s distracted driving laws.

Additional Information

Follow the links below to get more information surrounding driving laws in Massachusetts.

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