City Government

New Law: “Hands Free Even At Stoplights”

If Boise coppers enforce this law, all it will take is an officer on foot at Capitol and University to write tickets.
Beginning Wednesday, July 1, 2020, drivers throughout Idaho will recommit to safe, responsible driving by following a new law meant to keep drivers engaged while behind the wheel.

Text messaging on a cell phone while driving in Idaho, USA. MR

The new Idaho State Code 49-1401A requires electronic devices be in hands-free mode while driving, including when stopped at a red light or stop sign.

In other words, with few exceptions, the new hands-free law makes holding a cell phone illegal while operating a vehicle.

The new law, HB 614, is intended to “address safety concerns associated with a significant portion of distracted driving crashes.”

“Education of motorists is key.” Said Col. Kedrick Wills, Director of the Idaho State Police.

“Idahoans want to be responsible and to be good drivers. This law is another way to remind all of us we need to pay attention to the road when we’re behind the wheel. As law enforcement, we can remind them with education or enforcement. We’re starting with what we prefer, education.”


This law applies in every city and county throughout the state. Troopers, officers and deputies will issue warnings from July 1, 2020 to Dec. 31, 2020. Citations can be issued beginning January 1, 2021.


– Drivers can only use electronic devices and mobile phones in hands-free mode;
– Drivers are only permitted to touch devices to activate hands-free mode;
– Drivers are not permitted to hold or support any electronic device/phone;
– Activation of GPS, voice to text, and making or receiving calls is permitted with one-touch or voice command;
– Handheld use is allowed only if the vehicle is both stationary and not located in a public travel lane, or in the event of an emergency;
– Drivers are not allowed to touch a device for texting, emailing, apps, video, or internet use;
– Should a driver receive two distracted driving violations in three years, the new law states insurance companies can consider those violations when establishing insurance rates for a driver.

“We’re in this together, every motorist on the road. Our lawmakers have seen the need to give law enforcement in every jurisdiction, cities, counties and the state, a greater tool to ensure traffic safety. But the greatest power lies with each individual motorist who gets behind the wheel who makes the conscious decision to be engaged while driving.

“ISP will do our part to enforce when necessary, but we’re asking every Idaho driver to take it upon yourself and take responsibility for your own safety and the safety of others around you. Keep your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, your mind on driving, and together we’ll keep Idaho safe.” Said Col. Wills.


1st offense – $75 fine
2nd offense within three years – $150 fine
3rd and subsequent offenses within three years – $300 fine. Three offenses in three years can also lead to a license suspension of up to 90 days.


Idaho drivers are encouraged to SHIFT their behavior and focus on engaged driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving remains a danger and over the past decade has morphed from random incidents to a persistent and dangerous problem.

– 241 people killed in Idaho in crashes attributed to distracted driving between 2014 and 2018.
– In 1 in 5 crashes in Idaho, distracted driving is contributing factor.

“Things can go wrong very quickly when you take your eyes off the road for even a few seconds.

“Sadly, Troopers have come across crashes where the driver’s decision to use a mobile device resulted in life or death consequences. Anyone who has seen, been involved in, or is tasked with responding to these crashes understands this law addresses safety for every single person who drives on our roadways.” Said Col. Wills.


The new ISC 49-1401A will preempt all local ordinances in cities who already have hands-free ordinances. In 2012, the legislature passed a law that prohibited texting. This statute will be repealed once House Bill 614 takes effect July 1.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Here's Your Sign
    Jun 29, 2020, 2:24 pm

    I welcome this law, but doubt the press release. Perhaps the police could set a good example by following this law themselves? Texting and driving is a national addiction. The people who wrote the law are at Capital and University texting at this moment.

    And how about they enforce the super dark windows law. Yes, even if you are a special person. Those windows are not darkened so people can pick nose in privacy, it’s so they can text.

    PS: How about a story on all the Minneapolis and Seattle cops looking for a new job in Boise.

  2. This is long overdue and will increase the safety of the roads for all users.

  3. I would like to know of the 241 people that died because of distracted driving, how many were because of a cellphone.

    EDITOR NOTE–Here is a link to an anecdotal survey ISP conducted for the GUARDIAN in 2017. Three year old data, but the causes are no doubt noteworthy and similar.

  4. Just another redundant law (like we need more). It’s already illegal to text and drive but then again it’s not enforced and I doubt that this new law will change anything.

    EDITOR NOTE–Release says the texting law will be repealed when the new law is activated July 1. Not redundant in this case.

  5. “MY HANDS ARE UP – I can’t text- DON’T SHOOT!”

    New law- driving and texting – infraction – $75 -$300

    inattentive driving – infraction – 90

    reckless driving – misdemeanor – 6months/ $1000

    driving under the influence- misdemeanor – 6 months/$1,000 / 30days suspension

    btw fleeing a traffic LEO in Idaho is legally a misdemeanor-not a death sentence.

    For reckless one must be driving really badly, right? ‘Inattentive’ AND unsafe.
    But texting and dui, one might actually be driving just fine- safely- other than the obvious risk.

    When will Texting And Driving be perceived equal to drunk driving?:

    EDITOR NOTE–The perception is already here. BUT coppers are exempt in most circumstances. Who would give a copper a six pack before patrol starts?

  6. good point Editor.
    It should be “When will Texting and Driving be *treated equal* to drunk driving?”

    Flip that on it’s head:
    make dui equal to texting— so the penalty for dui should be $75, first offense? That is what a ‘reasonable’ Legislature would do. ha!
    MORE proof our legislature is not reasonable.
    “roadies for everyone!”

  7. Hands on the wheel
    Jun 30, 2020, 7:38 pm

    This has been a law for years, if not decades, in more populous areas. Why is Idaho so behind on public safety?

    I guess nobody really cares, at least anybody in the legislature or city governments.

    So behind.

  8. Romeo Sierra
    Jun 30, 2020, 8:02 pm

    At least It’s still OK for FiFi to sit on your lap and preen in the drivers side mirror.
    Had me worried for a minute…..

  9. Honestly, phones should just be turned off while in a car. I’m guilty myself and am trying to get better!

  10. Hands on the wheel
    Jul 3, 2020, 4:04 pm

    Two ideas come to mind.

    1-Take the phone for 10 days.

    2 – Boot the vehicle if they will not give up the phone.

    3 – Ticket with points specifically related to using phone while driving – the insurance company should have the hairs on the backs of their necks go up.

    Oh, and wear a mask.

  11. I have one of those blasted “smart” phones and I leave it turned off unless I need it.

    I still drive without any distractions going. My stereo quit working looooong ago and I don’t have any motivation to replacing it.

    I grew up with cars and was a hot rodder in the 70s and 80s. The only thing I paid attention to was the sound of my engines and the road. I have no dog in this fight. Most new cars make me wanna puke. They are pussy machines and they cost too much and you can’t work on them. They are all real snazzy, until they break, then loooook out and get out the checkbook.

    I have on old pickup truck that I can work on.

    Bikeboy…you aren’t missing a thing, except the cool cars I grew up with….keep on riding your two wheelers.

    Sorry gang, you are on your own on this one.

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