2017 Rhode Island General Laws
Title 31 - Motor and Other vehicles
Chapter 31-22 - Miscellaneous Rules
Section 31-22-31 - Mobile telephone usage by motor vehicle operators. [Effective June 1, 2018.].

Universal Citation: RI Gen L § 31-22-31 (2017)

§ 31-22-31. Mobile telephone usage by motor vehicle operators. [Effective June 1, 2018.].

(a) For purposes of this section, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

(1) "Engage in a call" means talking into or listening on a hand-held personal wireless communication device, but does not include holding a hand-held personal wireless communication device to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of such telephone.

(2) "Hands-free accessory" means an attachment, add-on, built-in feature, or addition to a personal wireless communication device, whether or not permanently installed in a motor vehicle, that, when used, allows the vehicle operator to maintain both hands on the steering wheel.

(3) "Hands-free personal wireless communication device" means a hand-held personal wireless communication device that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such hand-held personal wireless communication device, by which a user engages in a call without the use of either hand, whether or not the use of either hand is necessary to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of such telephone.

(4) "Hand-held personal wireless communication device" means a personal wireless communication device with which a user engages in a call using at least one hand.

(5) "Immediate proximity" means the distance that permits the operator of a hand-held personal wireless communication device to hear telecommunications transmitted over such hand-held personal wireless communication device, but does not require physical contact with such operator's ear.

(6) "Mobile telephone" means a personal wireless communication device, analog, wireless, or digital telephone capable of sending or receiving telephone communication without an access line for service.

(7) "Public utility" means a business that provides electricity, natural gas, water, and communications and other information services to residential and commercial customers.

(8) "Using" or "use" means holding a hand-held personal wireless communication device to, or in the immediate proximity of, the user's ear.

(b)(1) Except as otherwise provided in this section, no person shall operate a motor vehicle while using a hand-held personal wireless communication device to engage in a call while such vehicle is in motion.

(2) An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a hand-held personal wireless communication device to, or in the immediate proximity of, the operator's ear while such vehicle is in motion is presumed to be engaging in a call within the meaning of this section. The presumption established by this subdivision is rebuttable by evidence tending to show that the operator was not engaged in a call.

(3) The provisions of this section shall not be construed as authorizing the seizure or forfeiture of a hand-held personal wireless communication device, unless otherwise provided by law.

(4) Subsection (b)(1) of this section shall not apply to:

(i) The use of a hand-held personal wireless communication device for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation: an emergency response operator; a hospital, physician's office or health clinic; an ambulance company; a fire department; a police department; or a public utility; or

(ii) Any of the following persons while in the performance of their official duties and within the scope of their employment: a peace officer, as defined in § 12-7-21, a firefighter or an operator of an ambulance or authorized emergency vehicle, or the operator of a taxi cab, tow truck, or bus without passengers; or employees or agents of a public utility; or

(iii) The use of a hands-free personal wireless communication device.

(c) Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (b)(1) of this section shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars ($100) except that the fine shall be suspended for a first-time violator who provides proof of acquisition of a hands-free accessory subsequent to the violation, but prior to the imposition of a fine.

History of Section.
(P.L. 2017, ch. 167, § 1; P.L. 2017, ch. 308, § 1.)

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Rhode Island may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.