New cell phone law takes effect today in Indiana, among other laws

Phone. (Photo: Nick Deranek/News Now Warsaw)

Starting Wednesday, it will be illegal to hold your phone in your hand while driving on Indiana roads. A new state law goes into effect on July 1, after Governor Eric Holcomb signed it back in March.

Sgt. John Perrine with Indiana State Police says it’s not a total ban on using your phone while driving — you just can’t hold it.

“You can use your phone through bluetooth devices or hands-free operations,” Perrine said. “You can still use your phone for GPS, as long as you’re not holding your phone.”

For example, you can put your phone in a holder that you connect to your dash, windshield or vent.

“But the ban on texting while driving is still in place,” Perrine said. “So you can’t have your finger on your phone and be texting or sending an email.”

The new law also means you can’t hold your phone up to your ear to talk during a call. Perrine suggests connecting your phone to your vehicle’s bluetooth device or buying a bluetooth earpiece.

Perrine understands that this new law will take some time to get used to — even for police officers.

“This is going to take a change in behavior, for all of us,” he said. “I’m not excluding myself from this group. Utilizing your phone while driving has become such a common practice.”

That’s why Perrine says police aren’t just going to be trying to catch people and write a bunch of tickets.

“I can assure you Indiana State Police, in the coming months, are going to use this law as an educational tool,” he said. “Our goal isn’t going to be to go out and write a bunch of citations. Maybe we’ll use this to educate drivers.”

Perrine says it’s all about limiting crashes caused by distracted driving. Other states with similar laws have reported a decrease of 20% in distracted driving accidents.

He says, eventually, police will have to write tickets for you breaking the new law, and those tickets could cost anywhere between $200 and $500.

Other new laws include tougher penalties on stores that sell smoking or vaping products to anyone younger than 21 years, and a requirement that anyone younger than 18 obtain a judge’s permission before getting married.