texting while driving (copy)

Idaho’s hands-free cellphone law for drivers takes effect July 1, 2020.

Mandates electronics must be in hands-free mode

With a few exceptions, as of Wednesday, holding a cellphone while driving will be illegal in Idaho.

That’s thanks to a new Idaho state code, 49-1401A, which requires electronic devices be in hands-free mode while driving, including when stopped at red lights, according to a news release from the Idaho State Police. The new law is aimed at cutting down on distracted driving.

According to the release:

n Drivers can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode.

n Drivers are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode.

n Drivers are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone.

n Activation of GPS, voice to text, and making or receiving calls is permitted with one-touch or voice command.

n Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, or in the event of an emergency.

n Drivers are not allowed to touch a device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use.

n Should a driver receive two distracted driving violations in three years, the new law states insurance companies can consider those violations when establishing insurance rates for a driver.

A first offense will be punishable by a $75 fine, according to the release, and a second offense will warrant a $150 fine. Third and subsequent offenses within three years will mean a $300 fine and the possibility of a 90-day license suspension.

The law also repeals and replaces a 2012 ban on texting and driving, which was narrower in scope.