Safe Driving Bill Passes, Reaches Governor’s Office


Last week, the so-called safe driving bill was passed and sent to the Governor. The bill makes texting while driving a primary offense, but also includes content pertaining to drivers under 18 and over 75. The bill represents an attempt to make the roads safer for everyone driving, and comes as a response to the string of widely publicized car accidents this past year.

According to a summary of the bill, the measure:

  • Bans all operators of motor vehicles, including law enforcement, from text messaging while driving, with fines of $100 for the first offense, $250 for the second offense and $500 for subsequent offenders;  
  • Exempts the use of mobile devices while driving for defined emergency purposes;
  • Makes texting while driving a primary offense, meaning police can pull over motorists they believe are texting while driving.  The offenses would not be surchargeable for insurance purposes.
  • Prohibits drivers under age 18, like 28 other states, from using any type of cell phone or mobile device while driving, with a stepped up series of penalties including license and permit suspensions and fines;
  • Requires drivers 75 and older to renew their licenses in person at the Registry of Motor Vehicles and to take a vision test at five year intervals 



  • Requires the Registry to develop regulations to help identify cognitive or functional impairments likely to affect driving ability, standards that law enforcement and health care providers can use to assess a driver’s ability.  The bill also permits physicians or law enforcement officers to report, with civil liability protections, to the Registry when they believe an operator is not physically or medically capable of driving safely.
  • Lowers the threshold that triggers Registry scrutiny. Drivers with five or more surchargeable offenses within a three-year period are subject to an exam to measure their capacity for driving; the bill would switch that standard to drivers with three or more surchargeable incidents within a two-year period.


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