Texting Bill Legislation Update from State Government Liaison K3HI

MA State Government Liaison Shawn O’Donnell, K3HI writes:

[Beacon Hill] finally published the text of the compromise bill:


The bill doesn’t look exactly like I thought it would, given the Senate amendments, but it looks OK. Here’s the important part, in the updated definitions section of Chapter 90:

“Mobile telephone”, a handheld or portable cellular, analog, wireless, satellite or digital telephone, including a telephone with 2-way radio functionality, capable of sending or receiving telephone communications and with which a user initiates, terminates or engages in a call using at least 1 hand. For the purposes of this chapter, “mobile telephone” shall not include amateur radios operated by those licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to operate such radios, or citizen band radios.

This bill doesn’t have a hands-free mobile phone requirement. If they ever enact one, we’ll be exempt.

Can you use APRS/messaging systems while driving? The prohibition on texting while driving reads:

No operator of a motor vehicle shall use a mobile telephone, or any handheld device capable of accessing the internet, to manually compose, send or read an electronic message while operating a motor vehicle.

The definition section says ham radios aren’t mobile telephones, so you’re OK there. But there are connections between APRS systems and the Internet. So let’s give two arguments why you shouldn’t use APRS systems while driving: (a) it’s dangerous, and (b) you’d probably lose the argument about your device not being able to access the Internet. The bottom line: even if the particular message you’re reading/sending isn’t going out on the internet, the prohibition applies to you.

The governor was supposed to sign the bill [July 2] at noon.The bill becomes law at the end of September.


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