A new Missouri law will be going into effect August 28, working to reducing distracted driving. The law, known as the Siddens Bening Hands Free law, makes it illegal for anyone to physically hold any electronic device while driving. This includes making or answering a phone call, send text messages, or watching/recording videos. Those who would like to preform any of these functions while driving will be required to use handsfree devices.
Under the new law, GPS units and two-way radios are exempt and will still be allowed. Drivers will also be allowed to use cell phones to report any emergencies. Police officers and those driving emergency vehicles are also allowed to use phones and electronic devices while responding to an emergency.
Additionally, school bus drivers will no longer be allowed to use a cell phone, or other device, while the bus is moving. They can use a two-way radio except when students are getting on or off.
Officers will be giving warnings for the next 16 months. They will begin issuing citations to violators on January 1, 2025. Drivers cannot be stopped just for violating this law, however, if they stopped for another violation, the driver can be cited.
The fine will be $150 for the first citation and will increase for any additional violation within a two-year period. The law also stiffens penalties for violators who cause property damage or injure another person.