MALLEN LAW

Department of Transportation Restricts Cell Phone Use (Feb 2012)

A new rule restricting cell phone use by drivers of commercial motor vehicles operating their vehicles in interstate commerce is effective as of January 3, 2012. Under this rule, which was adopted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, drivers may not reach for their cell phone or dial a hand held cell phone while driving.

Drivers face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for any violation of this rule. Motor carriers and employers that allow their drivers to violate this rule face an $11,000 penalty. 

WHAT IS ALLOWED:
1. Hands-free use of a cell phone is allowed using either a wired or wireless earpiece, or the speakerphone function of the cell phone. The driver may also use a wireless telephone connection of the vehicle for hands-free operation.
2. A driver may initiate, answer, or terminate a call by touching a single button if the driver can do so while seated and properly restrained by seat belts. However, the driver may not reach for the cell phone.
3. Using the cell phone for an emergency to contact law enforcement or other emergency services is allowed. 

WHAT IS NOT ALLOWED:
1. A driver may not dial a cell phone while driving.
2. A driver may not reach for a cell phone while driving.
3. Employers may not allow or require their drivers to use hand-held cell phones.