Cell phone law nets over 100 Vermont traffic tickets so far

Although the cell phone ban while driving is still relatively new in Vermont, that hasn’t stopped law enforcement officers from issuing over 100 tickets since the law’s inception on October 1, 2014.  It was recently reported by NECN that in just the first 30 days over 130 stops were made by Vermont law enforcement throughout the State.  Although a majority of those stopped in October were issued warnings, there were still over 30 tickets that were issued.

This means that in the first two weeks of November alone, over 70 tickets have been issued as to the ban, which carry with it a $162 fine.  The law currently does not provide for points to be issued on an individual’s driver’s license.

For those still unfamiliar with the law, it can be summed up with a few simple words:  If your electronic handheld device is not hands-free then it is illegal in the State of Vermont to use it while driving a motor vehicle.

Although the fine alone may not scare many individuals into keeping off their phones while driving, if the device played a role in an accident, the penalties can be far worse.

Numerous cases have been brought into criminal court when an individual has been injured as a result of a driver being distracted by an electronic device while driving.  Depending on the severity of the injury, the potential penalty for such an offense can travel up as high as 15 years behind bars.

With the new law, which allows Vermont officers to pull over motorists merely because they see a driver with a device in their hand, the risk far outweighs the reward.

Vermont law bans handheld devices while driving

Hands off or pay up! Photo by Jeramey Jannene

Hands off or pay up!
Photo by Jeramey Jannene

Effective October 1, 2014 any motorist driving in the State of Vermont who is caught with a handheld device in their hands while driving can be pulled over by a Vermont law enforcement officer and be subject to a fine of between $100-$250 for the first violation and $250-$500 for a subsequent violation within two years.

There is no issuance of points for a violation of this law.

This law not only subjects motorists to fines, but also gives grounds for a Vermont police officer to initiate a stop based solely on their witnessing a motorist with a handheld device in their hands.  This “reasonable and articulable suspicion” required for a traffic stop as defined in the United Supreme Court case of Terry v. Ohio can subject motorists to a wide range of other potential charges, if a police officer finds sufficient evidence to support an expansion of the stop, a more extensive investigation including a potential search of the vehicle can arise, all as a result of using you handheld device while driving.

The bottom line, Vermont police now have another arrow in their quiver to stop motorists and charge them with traffic violations or crimes.  So when you cross  over the Vermont boarder, keep your hands off that mobile device, that text message or phone call is not worth the penalty.