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COVID-19 Could Impact Enforcement Of Mass. Hands-Free Driving Law

Storrow Drive in Boston, Massachusetts.
Phil Roeder
Creative Commons / flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder
Storrow Drive in Boston, Massachusetts.

Massachusetts drivers caught with cellphones in their hands are supposed to start getting tickets Wednesday, but police say the new coronavirus could afffect how strictly a new law is enforced.

Since late February, drivers who haven’t been following the state’s new hands-free driving law have only been getting warnings from police.

The grace period is over April 1.

But Northampton Police Chief Jody Kasper says COVID-19 has meant a shift in focus.

"This is still an incredibly important issue, and one that we’re going to pay a lot of attention to," Kasper said. "But it won’t be on the top of our priority right on April 1. Right now, we’re focused on keeping our officers healthy, and keeping our community healthy."

The Chicopee Police also say hands-free driving isn’t their most pressing concern.

Spokesman Michael Wilk said officers are exercising caution when they pull someone over.

"They’re not taking people’s paperwork if they don’t have to," Wilk said. "They’re absolutely using their laptop computers to identify people with pictures through the registry. We’re trying to have as limited an amount of face-to-face contact as possible."

A spokesman for the state police said the agency will continue to exercise discretion as they enforce traffic laws and officers still have the option of issuing verbal warnings when appropriate. 

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