New cell phone law: what you can and cannot do

Posted at 9:42 PM, May 12, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-13 14:11:41-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The way you can legally use your cell phone while driving will change. A new law goes into effect in Utah Tuesday.

So what can and can't you do?

"Can you answer the phone?" asked Fern Hill.

There are still so many questions about what you can and can't do under the new distracted driving law in Utah.

"You can still use your hands-free, that's all I'm really aware of," said motorist Rob Riegel.

Motorists can talk on the phone, hands free, or not. They can also use voice commands, dial a number during an emergency, or to report crime and view GPS or navigation coordinates.

Here's a list of what you can't do under the new law:

-Send, write or read texts -- same goes for instant messages and email

-You can't dial a number

-Access the Internet

-View or record video

-Enter data in your cell phone

"Any manipulation is a violation so if we see a person and their phone is up to their face and their thumb is going crazy over the front of the phone it`s obvious they are doing something," said Col. Superintendent Danny Fuhr with the Utah Highway Patrol.

UHP says at first, law enforcement will be educating the public about the new law but some worry about how far police will go.

"The fear is it will allow police to stop whoever they want – ‘oh, I thought you were using your phone,’ and it will allow police to stop whoever they chose to stop," said Clayton Simms, a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney.

"Our intent is to not hammer the public the highway patrol 50 percent of what we do is writing warnings for violations we`re really big into education," Fuhr said.

Riegel thinks the more restrictions the better for his safety and others.

"I'm kind of excited they're going to be enforcing this," he said.

A violation of the new distracted driving law is a Class C misdemeanor and carries a fine of up to $100. If you cause an accident or injure someone then it's a Class B misdemeanor, with a fine up to $1,000.