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What Indiana’s New Hands-Free Law Mean for Drivers

Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Aug 13, 2020 in Car Accidents

texting and drivingIndiana joined 24 other U.S. states when they implemented a new hands-free driving law. However, another state law that was introduced back in 2011 already bans motorists from texting while driving. How is this law different?

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak discuss some important differences the new hands-free law introduces, what penalties can be imposed and what your rights are if you get pulled over for violating it.

If you were injured because a negligent driver was distracted while using his or her cellphone, our South Bend car accident lawyers are prepared to help. Learn more by scheduling a free, no-obligation consultation at our firm.

What is Indiana’s New Hands-Free Law?

Indiana’s new hands-free driving law, effective from July 1, 2020, is short, but clear. It specifically prohibits holding any mobile device while driving your car. Activities include anything you do on your mobile devices, such as changing your music, reading or sending a text, checking your email or adjusting your GPS. If you pick up your phone or another mobile device while you are driving or even stopped at a traffic light, intersection or stop sign, you are breaking the law.

Mobile devices include, but are not limited to:

  • Cellphones or smartphones
  • GPS devices
  • Tablets

According to a WLFI News 18 report, Indiana State Senator Ron Alting said, “In Indiana alone, in 2019 we had about 800, close to 900 accidents that were related to cellphone use, and unfortunately, we had about 50 deaths.” The cell phone-related accident statistics were given to the senator by State Police Superintendent Doug Carter.

There are two notable exceptions to the new law that permits usage of a mobile device while driving:

  • Via hands-free or voice-activated technology
  • Hand-held to dial 9-1-1 for bonafide emergencies - the only time you may legally make a call while holding your cellphone

Is This Law Different Than the Previous Texting and Driving Law?

Indiana state law IC 9-21-8-59U is different than the previous law from 2011. Many felt the old law was too ambiguous since it only specifically banned texting while driving. That left room for drivers to claim they were adjusting their GPS, listening to music, checking their email, or other activities. Lawmakers are hopeful that the hands-free law may help to reduce the number of accidents due to distracted driving.

Can Police Issue a Ticket to Violators?

Under the new law, police can pull a driver over just for holding a mobile device, regardless of what activity the driver was doing on it. Depending on the circumstances, police are authorized to give a warning or issue a citation to the driver. Violators who receive a ticket could also be penalized up to $500 in fines. The good news is that, initially, no points may be assessed against a driver’s license by the bureau prior to July 1, 2021, which is one year after the law goes into effect.

Know Your Rights Under the Law

While the police may pull you over for violating this law, and you may get a warning or a ticket, there are rights you should be aware of. A police officer may not confiscate your cellphone, smartphone or other mobile devices, without your consent, for any of the following purposes:

  • To check your device to see whether there is physical evidence of a violation
  • To use it as evidence of your violation in a trial
  • To download any information from your device to keep or use as evidence of your violation

There are exceptions to these rights, such as if:

  • The officer has probable cause to believe your device was used in a criminal act
  • The officer has obtained a valid search warrant
  • Confiscation of your device was otherwise authorized by law

Legal Help for Car Crashes Due to Distracted Drivers

Were you injured by a driver who was texting, emailing or otherwise distracted by their mobile device? Do you need legal help pursuing compensation against the at-fault party to help pay for your medical costs and other losses?

The legal team at Pfeifer, Morgan and Stesiak welcome the opportunity to help. Contact our firm to schedule a free consultation. This is where we listen to you to find out how your accident happened. We have obtained millions in compensation for injured clients throughout Indiana, and we are prepared to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay and nothing to pay for our fees unless we first obtain compensation for you.

Call Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak for legal help today: (844) 678-1800