Caught using cell phone, or holding it while driving- $999 fine and 3 yr suspended license as of Jan.2019! Ouch…be aware folks!!
No specific jurisdiction was mentioned in the post, and we were unable to find any firm or even speculative information about a law of that type which would have proposed or implemented in January 2019. A March 2018 WTLV-TV article (“Viral lies: Can you be ticketed for having a phone in your hand while driving?”) referenced a similar rumor confined to Florida at that time.
According to the article, the claim was false as of March 2018:
I won’t make you scroll.
The answer is no. Not yet… It was posted at the end of February and states that Florida passed a new law that if a police officer so much as sees you with your cell phone in hand that you can be written an expensive ticket.
Well, according to the DMV Florida website, which is linked in the post, that is not true. Cell phones are said to be a distraction and you will be written a ticket if you break a road rule while using your phone, but that ticket will be for reckless driving, distracted driving, etc.
There was a handful of articles (and anecdotal reports) about laws proposed or rumored in specific states. However, a law involving holding cell phones while driving in Georgia involved a far smaller (USD$50) fine:
It’s now illegal to hold your phone while driving in the state of Georgia, part of a sweeping hands-free law that went into effect [in July 2018]. Reading from a phone or using it to record video is banned, too, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, including at stoplights.
Those caught breaking the rules — even tapping “play” on a Spotify playlist while not parked — face a $50 fine, which doubles upon their second offense. The law, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal in May, aims to curtail driving fatalities in the state … Drivers can no longer have phones “touching any part of their body” while talking through devices, the safety office stated. Reading emails, social media posts and text messages is banned, as well as writing any such content. While recording videos while driving — a practice frequently seen on social media — is banned, dash cams are OK.
In January 2018, an article about a proposed law in South Carolina (“It could soon be illegal to even hold a cellphone while driving in South Carolina”) reported that if a law of the type passed, it would carry fines of $100 and $300 for first and subsequent offenses, not $999. In May 2013, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a then-new hefty fine for handheld cell phones … for commercial vehicle operators, not regular drivers:
A new FMCSA rule restricts the use of all hand-held mobile devices by drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). This rulemaking restricts a CMV driver from holding a mobile device to make a call, or dialing by pressing more than a single button. CMV drivers who use a mobile phone while driving can only use a hands-free phone located in close proximity.
Using a hand-held mobile phone while driving a CMV can result in driver disqualification. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device while driving.
We managed to locate one similar “distracted driving” law which purportedly took effect in January 2019, in Ontario, Canada. However, the fine/suspension table provided by that site still did not match the claims in the post:
First offence: 3 days suspension and $1,000 fine
Second offence: 7 days suspension and $2,000 fine
Three or more offences: 30 days suspension, $3,000 fine and six demerit points
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute (IIHS-HLDI) maintains updated lists of cellphone laws relating to driving in various states and jurisdictions. We archived the latter’s January 2019 table, which says that in the state of California “persons are prohibited from driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a phone or electronic communication device.” But we were unable to locate a state or federal law. However, that law went into effect in 2017 (not 2019) and involved a fine of around $150, not $999.