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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 13B: Composing, sending or reading of electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle prohibited; penalties

[ Text of section effective until February 23, 2020. For text effective February 23, 2020, see below.]

  Section 13B. (a) No operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile telephone, or any handheld device capable of accessing the internet, to manually compose, send or read an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle. For the purposes of this section, an operator shall not be considered to be operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the public way intended for travel.

  (b) A violation of this section shall be punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, by a fine of $250 for a second offense and by a fine of $500 for a third or subsequent offense.

  (c) A penalty under this section shall not be a surchargeable offense under section 113B of chapter 175.

Chapter 90: Section 13B. Composing, sending or reading of electronic messages while operating a motor vehicle prohibited; emergencies; penalties

[ Text of section as amended by 2019, 122, Sec. 9 effective February 23, 2020 applicable as provided by 2019, 122, Sec. 15. For text effective until February 23, 2020, see above.]

  Section 13B. (a) No operator of a motor vehicle shall hold a mobile electronic device. No operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile electronic device unless the device is being used in hands-free mode. No operator of a motor vehicle shall read or view text, images or video displayed on a mobile electronic device; provided, however, that an operator may view a map generated by a navigation system or application on a mobile electronic device that is mounted on or affixed to a vehicle's windshield, dashboard or center console in a manner that does not impede the operation of the motor vehicle. For the purposes of this section, an operator shall not be considered to be operating a motor vehicle if the vehicle is stationary and not located in a part of the public way intended for travel by a motor vehicle or bicycle.

  (b) Evidence that the use of a mobile electronic device was in response to an emergency shall be an affirmative defense to an alleged violation of this section. For the purposes of this section, an emergency shall mean that the operator needed to report that: (i) the vehicle was disabled; (ii) medical attention or assistance was required; (iii) police intervention, fire department or other emergency services were necessary for the personal safety of the operator or a passenger or to otherwise ensure the safety of the public; or (iv) a disabled vehicle or an accident was present on a roadway.

  (c) This section shall not apply to public safety personnel or emergency first responders using a mobile electronic device while operating an emergency services vehicle and engaged in the performance of their duties.

  (d) A violation of this section shall be punishable by a fine of $100 for a first offense, by a fine of $250 for a second offense and by a fine of $500 for a third or subsequent offense. In addition to any fines pursuant to this subsection, an operator who commits a second or subsequent offense under this section or section 8M shall be required to complete a program selected by the registrar of motor vehicles that encourages a change in driver behavior and attitude about distracted driving. Nothing in this subsection shall authorize the seizure or forfeiture of a hands-free mobile telephone or a mobile electronic device.

  (e) A first or second offense under this section or section 8M shall not be a surchargeable incident under section 113B of chapter 175 or under a motor vehicle liability policy as defined in section 34A that is issued pursuant to said chapter 175; provided, however, that a third or subsequent offense under this section or section 8M shall be a surchargeable incident under said section 113B of said chapter 175 or under a motor vehicle liability policy as defined in said section 34A that is issued pursuant to said chapter 175.