State officials have modified Hawaii’s distracted driving law, which first went into effect on July 1, 2013. When this law was first introduced, those caught using a mobile electronic device while driving would face a fine between $100 and $200, for a first offense, and they were required to appear in court. In the year that has passed since the law was established, the Maui Police Department alone has issued 968 citations for the use of mobile electronic devices on our roadways.
But now, effective on July 1, the fine for using a mobile electronic device has been raised to $297 and this goes up to $347 if a driver is caught within a construction or school zone. That’s bad, but the severity of the citation has been dropped from a traffic “crime “to an “infraction.” This means that cited drivers will no longer have to appear in court.
“After the law was passed in 2013, we at the Legislature received a lot of complaints about the vagueness of the law and the severity of requiring violators to go to court,” said Senator J. Kalani English in a July 1 press release. “It was never our intention to require violators to go to court instead of mailing in a fine.”
The updated law does allow for the use of hands-free devices by drivers who are at least 18. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using any type of mobile electronic devices, including hands-free ones. Juveniles cited for using a hands-free device will be fined $257 or $307 if they are in a construction or school zone.
An exemption has also been added to the original law which says that the use of cell phones in a vehicle will be permitted if the car is at a complete stop, with the engine turned off, in a safe location that is out of the way of traffic.
“Driving while using your cell phone or any other electronic device is just plain dangerous and irresponsible,” added English. “Fines have proven to deter people from breaking the law, but more importantly, we want to keep the people of Hawaii safe. A person’s life is significantly more important than that Facebook post of text message.”
For more information on the law, click here.
– Ashley Probst (@ashprobsticle)
Photo: Wikimedia Commons