Indiana's hands-free driving law to go into effect July 1

<p>Effective July 1, 2020, it will be illegal to operate or hold an electronic device while you are driving a vehicle in Indiana. Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said the hope behind this new law is to save lives and reduce crashes. <strong>Unsplash, Photo Courtesy</strong></p>

Effective July 1, 2020, it will be illegal to operate or hold an electronic device while you are driving a vehicle in Indiana. Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said the hope behind this new law is to save lives and reduce crashes. Unsplash, Photo Courtesy

Indiana's hands-free driving law, which makes it illegal to operate or hold an electronic device while you are driving a vehicle, will go into effect July 1, according to a press release from the Delaware County Prosecutor's Office.

IC-9-21-8-59 or the "Use of telecommunications device while operating a moving motor vehicle" law makes it illegal for a driver to use a telecommunications device while operating a moving motor vehicle. Drivers can use the device if operated using  hands-free or voice-operated technology, or to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency, the law states.

Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said in the press release this includes making a phone call, searching for directions and anything else a driver can do with a phone.

Starting July 1, Hoffman said if a police officer sees a driver on their phone while driving, for any reason, they could be subject to a stop and a ticket.

While it is preferred to place phones on a do-not-disturb mode while driving, he said people should make use of hand-free options like connecting their phones to their vehicle using Bluetooth or a cable for navigation and phone calls and installing clips or holders to mount their phones in their cars.

"The hope behind this new law is to save lives and reduce crashes," Hoffman said. "Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter has repeatedly said that law enforcement will not be looking to write hundreds of tickets for this new infraction ... It is our job to keep people safe and I hope people will take this to heart and simply put the phone down when behind the wheel."

The new law states a police officer may not, without consent of the person, confiscate a telecommunications device to determine compliance with the law or retain it as evidence of violation of the law. Police officers cannot extract or download information from the device unless they have probable cause to believe the device has been used to commit a crime, under a valid search warrant or as otherwise authorized by law.

Ball State's University Police Department also tweeted out Hoffman's press release, reminding people that starting Wednesday, it will be illegal to operate a cell phone while driving.


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