INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana motorists caught using handheld cellphones while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle now face increased penalties for breaking state law.
A law banning cellphone use took effect in July 2020 to combat distracted driving. That law allowed tickets of up to $500 against violators but delayed by a year any state Bureau of Motor Vehicles points toward a driver’s license suspension.
Violations will now result in four points against a driver’s license, BMV officials said. License suspensions start once a driver has accumulated 20 points within a two-year period.
Texting and other handheld cellphone use is a frequent cause of crashes, officials said. State law allows cellphone use by drivers only with hands-free or voice-operated technology, except in emergencies.
Drivers also face additional points for speeding in school or construction zones. Those violations will now result in four to eight points against a license, depending on how fast the driver was going.
“Traveling Indiana roads is a shared endeavor that is only made safer when we are aware of the law and making good decisions behind the wheel,” Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Peter Lacy said during a July 29 news conference.
Police officers across Indiana issued nearly 5,500 tickets and about 10,500 warnings during the first year of the handheld cellphone ban, state officials said.
State Police Capt. Ron Galaviz said many officers have tried to educate drivers about the new law but will from now on be issuing more tickets than warnings.