Hands-free cell phone law goes into effect throughout Idaho

Businesswoman texting on her smart phone while driving a car.

PRESTON, IDAHO — A new cellphone law went into effect Wednesday, meant to keep drivers alert while behind the wheel. The statute could result in a warning or citation for motorists in the northern end of Cache Valley.

The new Idaho State Code requires electronic devices to be in hands-free mode while driving, including when stopped at a red light or stop sign. The law basically makes holding a cell phone illegal while operating a vehicle.

In a press release, the Idaho State Police said there are several changes for all motorists driving through the state:

  • Drivers can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode;
  • Drivers are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode;
  • Drivers are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone;
  • Activation of GPS, voice to text, and making or receiving calls is permitted with one-touch or voice command;
  • Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, or in the event of an emergency;
  • Drivers are not allowed to touch a device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use;
  • Should a driver receive two distracted driving violations in three years, the new law states insurance companies can consider those violations when establishing insurance rates for a driver.

The statute applies in every city and county throughout Idaho. Troopers, officers and deputies will issue warnings about the new law until the end of the year. Citations can be issued beginning January 1, 2021.

Director of the Idaho State Police Col. Kedrick Wills said, “Idahoans want to be responsible and to be good drivers. This law is another way to remind all of us we need to pay attention to the road when we’re behind the wheel. As law enforcement, we can remind them with education or enforcement. We’re starting with what we prefer, education.”

In Utah, hand-held cellphone use, specifically while driving, has been illegal since 2007. However, it can only be enforced simultaneously with another moving violation, such as speeding.


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