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Rhode Island's Distracted Driving Laws

It's common knowledge that texting and driving is illegal in Rhode Island but the details of RI Law § 31-22-31 are not common knowledge. Sheeley Law is here to help you understand the laws you need to follow. Below is your guide:

Summary of Rhode Island’s Distracted Driving Law:

In Rhode Island, it is illegal to hold a phone in your hand while driving. It doesn’t matter if you are using your device to talk, text, email, get directions, play music or access any of your apps.


According to Rhode Island Law, Distracted Driving includes:

  • Browsing the internet or social media

  • Using GPS navigation systems or reading maps

  • Watching video clips

  • Changing music

  • Eating and drinking

  • Applying makeup

What is Allowed in Rhode Island by Law 


You may talk on the phone while driving only if you use Bluetooth technology that is connected to your car’s speaker system, or you are using a hands-free earpiece. In addition, the following are exempt:

  • On-duty emergency personnel, such as police, fire and medical professionals

  • Drivers who must use their device to contact emergency services, or

  • Drivers whose vehicles are in park and completely out of the flow of traffic


Consequences for Breaking the Law:


The consequences for distracted driving in our state can be severe. If a police officer observes you holding a phone while driving, you will be pulled over and your first penalty could be a $100 fine and/or a maximum 30-day license suspension. A second offense carries a maximum $150 fine and/or a license suspension of up to three months. A third offense can result in your license being suspended for up to six months and up to $250 in fines. In addition to fines, your insurance rates will likely go up. 

Tips to Keep You Safe

At Sheeley Law, we care about your safety and well-being and we also care about others around you. Distracted driving is the cause of a significant number of accidents each year. Read our law blog which contains more information and safety tips. 

If you were hit by a driver who was distracted driving, contact Personal Injury Attorney Ann Sheeley for a free consultation. Our firm has years of experience representing pedestrians that were injured. Accidents can take a major toll on your life. You can count on Sheeley Law to stand by your side, be a strong advocate, and seek maximum compensation for your losses and personal injury.

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