The State if Rhode Island has cracked down hard on distracted driving and implemented new laws and regulations to govern these issues. In early 2015, State Senator Susan Sosnowski revealed a plan that bans the use of handheld devices by drivers. Senate Bill 267 was approved on March 19th by the Senate and sent to the full House. The bill states that the fine for distracted driving is a maximum of $100. Senator Sosnowski’s reformed distracted driving bill will have a grace period of sorts. The Bill will grant amnesty for first-time violators who can prove they’ve purchased hands-free accessories. The bill for Rhode Island distracted driving will not take effect until June 1, 2017.

Rhode Island Distracted Driving

Current Rhode Island distracted driving legislation prohibits the following under Chapter 31-22 ยง 31-22-30:

  • Texting and driving prohibited for all drivers on Rhode Island roads
  • Driver under 18 are prohibited from cell phone use while driving alltogether
  • School bus drivers are prohibited from cell phone use while driving alltogether

Rhode Island distracted driving penalties increase with repeated offenses and include:

  • First offense: $100
  • Second offense: $150
  • Third offense: $250

(e) Any person who violates any of the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of one hundred dollars ($100), or a license suspension for up to thirty (30) days, or both; for a second conviction a person shall be subject to a fine of one hundred fifty dollars ($150), or a license suspension for up to three (3) months, or both; and for a third or subsequent conviction a person shall be subject to a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250), or a license suspension for up to six (6) months, or both. All violations arising out of this section shall be heard in the Rhode Island traffic tribunal.

These laws aim to prohibit the use of texting features while driving. The use of other mobile phone functions such as maps, GPS systems and music are currently still allowed under current Rhode Island distracted driving statutes, but in limiting circumstances.