Starting February 23rd, driving and operating a cell phone or any electronic device in any mode other than hands-free is illegal in Massachusetts. Massachusetts joined Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and other states when Governor Charlie Baker signed the bill into law Nov 25, 2019.
You can only touch the device to activate hands-free mode. You're permitted one touch to start hands-free mode, otherwise you need to pull over. You also must properly mount your phone or device to the windshield, dashboard, or center console so that it does not impede your driving. You cannot hold or support your device.
Technically, this law does not apply if you're operating applications that are built into your car's center console. That doesn't mean operating those devices while driving is any safer than operating your cellphone and, in some cases, it's probably more distracting. Some of these systems require an incredible amount of attention and effort to use (see how your car ranks here). The bottom line is your eyes are off the road, even if only for a second, and police could still charge you with negligent driving.
For drivers under the age of 18, this new law does not apply because operating any electronic device while driving is already illegal, including hands-free mode.
Police will start by handing out warnings, but at the end of March, they will be handing out tickets. For those over 18, the fine for the first offense is $100. For the second offense, you will be charged $250 and you must complete a distracted driving educational program. For a third offense, you will be charged $500, be required to complete a distracted driving educational program, and you can expect an insurance surcharge. Drivers under the age of 18 caught using their phones can have their license suspended for 60 days and can be fined $100 for a first offense.
While texting while driving has been illegal in Massachusetts since 2010, it was tricky to enforce. Now, police have the ability to pull you over if you're scrolling on Facebook or entering in an address to Google Maps while driving. Now is the time buy a proper mount for your phone, set it up so it answers in speakerphone (iPhone), have it automatically send a text to people letting them know you're driving, and learn more about the Do Not Disturb option for when you're driving. You can still use a headset for calls, but you can only have one earbud in.
To find out what the laws are for neighboring states and to learn more about distracted driving in general, see here.
For more information about this law, see here.
The bottom line is that, starting Feb 23rd, you need to mount your phone and can only use one touch to initiative hands-free mode. If you need to touch your phone for anything else, you need to pull over.