In response to the significant public health impact of distracted driving accidents, Connecticut has established laws aimed to decrease serious injuries and fatalities. Motorists must refrain from smartphone use or risk legal penalties. 

Before you take the wheel, know the regulations that apply to distracted driving in Connecticut. 

Cellphone conversations 

Drivers may not talk on a cellphone while behind the wheel unless they use a hands-free device. This law applies whether the person is actively driving, stopped in traffic, or at a stop sign or red light. However, you can take a phone call when safely stopped on the shoulder of the road. 

Drivers younger than 18 may not engage in cellphone conversation even with a hands-free device. The law states that holding the phone directly by the ear constitutes prohibited use unless the driver can prove otherwise. 

Exceptions exist to cover official duties by military personnel, first responders, emergency vehicle operators, firefighters and police officers. Individuals can also use their phones to call for help in an emergency situation. 

Texting and wireless communications 

Operating any smartphone or electronic device behind the wheel is against the law in Connecticut. The law includes not only cellphones and tablets but also video game systems, laptop computers, digital assistants and pagers. The state does not define use, which means that a driver can receive a citation for any type of device use, from email and texting to social media and restaurant recommendations. 

The law does not apply to emergency communications and GPS navigation systems. In addition, military personnel, paramedics, firefighters and police officers can use electronic devices whenever necessary on official business. 

Penalties for distracted driving 

Connecticut motorists can receive $150 in fines for a first distracted driving offense, $300 for the second offense and $500 for each subsequent offense. They may also receive driver’s license points, which can eventually result in suspension of driving privileges. Keep in mind that distracted driving laws in Connecticut apply to all distracting activities, not just device use. Following these laws can prevent a serious auto accident.