The Journal Gazette
Friday, July 30, 2021 1:00 am

Points added to phone-holding drivers

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Hoosiers ticketed for holding their cellphones while driving will now see points added to their license, state officials said Thursday.

The state's hands-free law is a year old but points were not allowed to be assessed for the first year while education and awareness campaigns were ongoing.

Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Peter Lacy said a violation will mean four points on a license in addition to a fine.

“Traveling Indiana's roads is a shared endeavor that is only made safer when we are aware of the law and making good decisions behind the wheel,” he said.

It takes 14 to 18 points to receive a warning, and suspensions start at 20 points. Points fall off after two years.

Indiana State Police Capt. Ron Galaviz reported that 16,000 tickets and warnings have been given statewide to drivers – mostly warnings. He said those were face-to-face conversations to educate the public on putting the phone down while driving.

Mounting a phone and using either Bluetooth technology or a headset would keep Hoosiers legal.

The group at Thursday's news conference also included the Indiana Motor Truck Association and a member of the construction industry. In addition to the hands-free law, participants preached slow and safe driving in school and work zones.

“There are far too many people who are speeding, not paying attention and operating unsafely around school buses and in school zones,” Galaviz said

Lacy said Indiana law now has school zone-specific tickets that will cost drivers between four and eight points on their license depending on how fast the driver is going. The same applies in another law for construction zones.

Joe McGuinness, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, said there have been nearly 1,500 work zone accidents and six deaths in 2021.

He said drivers are falling into the Amazon effect – “we want what we want and we want it like an hour ago.” This leads to speeding and distracted driving.

“Let's do a better job of making sure those phones are down,” McGuinness said. “In the end it takes all of us collectively to make sure our workplace is safe.”

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