Are there laws that prevent you from using your phone while driving in Indiana?
What happens if you use your phone while driving?
As distracted driving becomes one of the common causes of crashes and accidents, more states are implementing distracted driving laws.
Indiana is no exception.
But what are the Indiana distracted driving laws?
In this article, you’ll know everything you should know about it — from what is considered illegal, to the penalties you’ll face, to other distractions to avoid.
So let’s get started.
Distracted Driving Law in Indiana
There is only one law in Indiana that directly addresses distracted driving and it’s called the Hands-Free Driving Law.
The Hands-Free Driving Law was enforced on July 1, 2020. The law states that…
“It is illegal for drivers, whether commercial or non-commercial, to hold any electronic mobile device while driving.”
These mobile devices include smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches.
NOTE: smartwatches can only be used if you are checking the time.
Now, if you need to use any electronic mobile device while driving, there are only two exceptions that allow you to do so:
- When you are calling for an emergency
- When your electronic mobile device is being used via hands-free technology such as Bluetooth.
Other than these two scenarios, you are NOT allowed to use your phone. And yes, even if you are trying to navigate the road or make a phone call (unless it is hands-free).
Previous Distracted Driving Law in Indiana
Wait, didn’t Indiana already have a distracted driving law before?
Yes, they did – it was back in 2011.
That law prohibited texting while driving. However, the problem with that was the prohibitions were too specific. In turn, this didn’t account for the other things you can do with an electronic mobile device such as operating a navigation app, taking photos, listening to music, etc.
For this reason, this law was replaced by the Hands-Free Driving Law, which prohibits the use of electronic mobile devices when on your hands.
Distracted Driving Penalties in Indiana
If you are caught holding or using an electronic mobile device (except for calling for emergency purposes), you will be given the following penalties:
- First offense: Class C infraction and a $50 fine
- Second and subsequent offenses: Class C infraction, $50 fine, and 4 points on your driver’s license
NOTE: if you have received 20 points on your driver’s license in 2 years, you will face license suspension.
As you might expect, the court may give you more severe sanctions if injuries or deaths happened due to your distracted driving.
When the Hands-Free Driving Law was enacted in 2020, points weren’t given to motorists during the first year. According to the BMV, this is to focus on educating drivers on the new Hands-Free Driving Law. It was only in July 2020 that they started giving out 4 points per violation.
Other Examples of Distracted Driving
Although the Hands-Free Driving Law only specifies the use of electronic mobile devices, other activities cause distracted driving, leading to accidents on the road.
Here are a few examples of distracted driving that are not illegal but should be avoided at all times:
- Eating or drinking
- Using a physical map to navigate the road
- Getting your kids or pets to behave in the car
- Having a heated argument with someone beside you or on the speaker/earphones
- Fiddling with something on the dashboard
- Putting on makeup or fixing your hair
- Getting something in the backseat
- Watching something on the phone even when it’s hands-free
Frequently Asked Questions
Indiana’s distracted driving law comes with a lot of questions on what is considered distracted driving and how you can avoid it. Well, here are some FAQs that might answer your burning questions.
Can I eat or drink while driving in Indiana?
Yes, you can, but this is highly discouraged because eating or drinking distracts you from focusing solely on the road. These activities also prevent you from keeping both your hands on the steering wheel.
Can I still listen to music while driving in Indiana?
Yes, you can, but this should be done in a hands-free manner.
That said, be cautious when you use earbuds to listen to music as this reduces your alertness when driving. You might also miss other road signs because you are distracted by music.
What if my phone is not equipped with Bluetooth?
You either have to buy an accessory that allows it to have Bluetooth or don’t use it at all when you’re driving.
Can you use your phone if you stop at the side of the road in Indiana?
There are places along the highways that prohibit stopping on the side of the road. So, you can’t just pull over anywhere if you want to use your phone.
To be safe, pull over in a parking lot, gasoline station, or convenience store if you need to use your phone.
Will your license be suspended for distracted driving in Indiana?
No, unless, of course, your driver’s license has accumulated 20 points in 2 years.
Also, your driver’s license may be suspended if your distracted driving causes an injury or death and the court sees it fit to do so.
Is it illegal to text at a red light in Indiana?
Yes, you are not allowed to use your phone even at a red light. You can only pick up your phone when you put your car in ‘park’ mode.
And that was everything you need to know about the Indiana distracted driving law.
Distracted driving, specifically the use of electronic mobile devices, is one of the main causes of accidents in Indiana.
But with the relatively new Hands-Free Driving Law, the State of Indiana hopes to eliminate the dangers of distracted driving on the roadways.
And even though the law only talks about the use of mobile devices, avoiding any distracted driving behaviors will also help in reducing accidents on the road.
Remember, it’s always best to stay safe while driving!