Indiana News

Hands-free driving law begins Wednesday, police prepare to enforce

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new law will go into effect Wednesday banning the use of cellphones while driving in Indiana.

For almost a decade, it has been illegal to text and drive in the state, but officers say with loopholes in the law, it’s been difficult for them to ticket drivers who were texting behind the wheel.

“Just because someone is on their phone doesn’t mean I can grab their phone and either confirm or deny whether they were texting,” said Lt. Drake Sterling with Zionsville Police Department. “I have to take their word for it. It’s kind of impossible to enforce right now.”

Beginning July 1, any handheld cellphone usage while driving becomes illegal.

According to federal authorities, states that have passed hands-free driving laws have seen crashes decrease almost 20% in the first two years. Other studies found the risk of a crash increases by up to six times if the driver is on the phone.

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Sterling says in this information age, it’s tempting to want information right away, which can cause people to look down for seconds at a time.

“Any form of that can be fatal,” said Sterling. “I think it’s due, I think it’s a good thing. We as law enforcement officers see it every day.”

Sterling says his department is talking with the prosecutor and will likely give out warnings only for the first few months to educate drivers before writing tickets.

Violating the law could result in a Class C infraction, which involves a fine. Beginning July 1, 2021, you will have points added to your license if you use your phone behind the wheel.