On October 1, 2005, Connecticut's first cell phone law took effect. On October 2, 2005, I received my first warning ticket for offense PA05-220(2)… talking on a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Ack!
Luckily, the Town of Simsbury police officer who knocked on my window while I continued to yak on my cell phone after finding a parking space at Staples was very kind. I only received a warning ticket… and a reminder that I need to purchase a hands-free device in order to use my cell phone while driving.
I was relieved, as the fine for violation of Connecticut's strict cell phone law is hefty even for first-time offenders, but I was also plenty embarrassed. I was well aware of the new law and had even tried out my husband's work-supplied Jabra hands-free headset (Compare Prices). Picking up my cell phone to make a quick call while driving had become almost a reflex, though.
Since then, I've gotten much better about never holding a phone to my ear, but I'll admit: It's sometimes tough to resist looking at my phone when I'm on the road. This is bad because Connecticut has introduced additional distracted driving laws that severely restrict drivers' use of hand-held cell phones for texting, calling, and more. During a texting and driving crackdown in 2015, my massage therapist even got a ticket simply for changing the Pandora station on her phone.
To help you avoid finding yourself in a similar predicament, here's a quick review of key components of the cell phone law in Connecticut:
- No person shall operate a motor vehicle upon a highway (any state or other public highway, road, street, avenue, alley, driveway, parkway) while using a hand-held mobile telephone to engage in a call.
Hold a cell phone anywhere near your ear, and the law assumes you are engaged in a call.
- An operator of a motor vehicle who types, sends or reads a text message with a hand-held mobile telephone or mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle is also in violation of the law.
- Drivers who are 16 or 17 years of age may not use any type of cell phone or mobile electronic device, even with a hands-free accessory.
As of August 1, 2008, drivers ages 16 or 17 can have their licenses suspended for using a cell phone or electronic device while driving.
- Operators of school buses carrying passengers may not use a cell phone or any other electronic device when the bus is moving.
- The one exception to this law is that a cell phone or mobile electronic device may be used by a driver of any age in an emergency situation, so go ahead and use your phone while driving for emergency calls to 911, a hospital, a doctor's office, a health clinic, an ambulance company, or a fire or police department.
For purposes of the law, a mobile electronic device is defined as any hand-held or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing data communication between two or more persons, including a text messaging device, a paging device, a personal digital assistant, a laptop computer, equipment that is capable of playing a video game or a digital video disk, or equipment on which digital photographs are taken or transmitted, or any combination thereof, but does not include any audio equipment or any equipment installed in a motor vehicle for the purpose of providing navigation, emergency assistance to the operator of such motor vehicle or video entertainment to the passengers in the rear seats of such motor vehicle.
Cell phones and mobile electronic devices may be used by passengers in a moving vehicle.
In a media release, Chief State's Attorney Christopher L. Morano said, "The purpose of this law is to promote safety on our highways." He also said state officials recognize that it may take some time to educate the public about the new cell phone laws.
You can avoid a lot of hassle and expensive penalties by getting a hands-free cell phone device now before you find yourself in trouble with the law like me! About.com's Smartphones Expert Liane Cassavoy has advice on shopping for Bluetooth headsets, and Car Tech Expert Jeremy Laukkonen will help you pair a Bluetooth cell phone with your car.