Massachusetts’s Cellphone-Use & Texting-While-Driving Laws

Read about Massachusetts’s distracted driving laws and the costs of a violation.

Massachusetts's distracted driving laws generally ban texting-while-driving for all motorists and talking on a cellphone for only certain drivers. This article discusses the specifics of what the law prohibits and the costs and other consequences of a violation.

Talking on a Cellphone

For most Massachusetts motorists, there are no restrictions on talking on a cellphone while driving.

However, motorists who are under the age of 18 or operating a vehicle used for public transportation (including bus drivers) aren't allowed to talk on or use a cellphone for any purpose while driving.

Exceptions. Massachusetts's cellphone ban for underage and public transportation drivers contains a number of exceptions. These drivers are allowed to use cellphones to report:

  • a disable vehicle or accident
  • medical attention is needed, or
  • police, fire department, or other emergency services are needed.

Additionally, public transportation drivers are permitted to use a cellphone as necessary to perform official duties.

With all the exceptions, it's up to the driver to prove the exception applies.

Penalties for underage drivers. For a first violation of the underage cellphone-use law, there's a $100 fine and 60-day license suspension, and the motorist must complete a driver's education course. Second violations carry $250 in fines and a 180-day license suspension. And for a third or subsequent violation, the driver is looking at a $500 fine and one-year license suspension.

Penalties for public transportation drivers. Public transportation drivers who violate the cellphone law face a $500 fine.

Text Messaging

Massachusetts's distracted driving law prohibits all motorists from using a cellphone or handheld device capable of accessing the Internet to manually compose, send, or read an electronic message while operating a vehicle.

Penalties. A texting-while-driving ticket will cost the motorist $100 for a first violation, $250 for a second violation, and $500 for a third violation.

Other Possible Charges

Depending on the circumstances, a texting or cellphone violation could also lead to reckless operation conviction. And if one of these violations results in the death of another person, homicide-by-vehicle charges are possible.

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