Vermont's Statewide Handheld Ban Takes Effect October 1
As of Monday, October 1, 2014, use of any handheld portable electronic device while driving in Vermont is illegal. The law (23 V.S.A. § 1095b) carries fines of up to $200 with points assessed if the violation occurs in a work zone. Use of a mobile device is permitted if an approved "hands-free" technology, such as Bluetooth, is properly installed — however, junior operators are strictly forbidden to use cell phones of any kind while driving. The ban covers all portable electronic devices, including, music players, laptop computers, and cellular telephones.
What does "hands-free" mean?
Hands-free means the portable electronic device is not in the hands of the driver. Devices can be used by employing an internal feature such as Bluetooth or a wired headset with a single-button control, or a speakerphone. The device itself can be used for single button hands-free operation, as long as the device is in a cradle or otherwise securely mounted in the vehicle. The ban is lifted when the driver needs to communicate with law enforcement or emergency service personnel in an emergency. For more information on which hands-free device is right for you, download this guide from the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
Vermont neighbors, The Province of Quebec and New York State have each had a handheld ban in effect for several years. New Hampshire’s ban will take effect in July of 2015
Violators shall be subject to a fine of not less than $100.00 and not more than $200.00 for a first violation, and of not less than $250.00 and not more than $500.00 for a second or subsequent violation within any two-year period. If the violation occurs within a properly designated work zone in which construction, maintenance, or utility personnel are present, two points will be assessed against the violators’ license for a first conviction and five points assessed on subsequent convictions.
For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, see this page from the Vermont Highway Safety Alliance: Vermont Cell Phone Ban FAQs, and the DMV Enforcement Bulletin.
Also, listen to this great discussion on VPR: Hands Off: The Logistics Of The Hand-Held Cell Phone Ban.