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Understanding Indiana’s Hands-Free Law

Understanding Indiana’s Hands-Free Law

In recent years, the widespread use of smartphones has revolutionized the way we communicate and access information. While these devices offer unparalleled convenience, they also pose significant risks when used irresponsibly, especially while driving. Recognizing the need to prioritize road safety, Indiana introduced a landmark legislation – the Hands-Free Law. In this blog post, we will explore the key aspects of Indiana’s Hands-Free Law and understand why it’s essential for every driver to embrace hands-free communication.

The Hands-Free Law: An Overview

Indiana’s Hands-Free Law (Ind. Code § 9-21-8-59) was enacted to reduce distracted driving incidents caused by the use of electronic devices, such as cell phones, while behind the wheel. The law, which took effect on July 1, 2020, prohibits drivers from holding or using a mobile device while operating a vehicle. This includes activities such as texting, making calls, browsing the internet, or engaging with social media.

However, it is important to note that this law does not prohibit the use or holding of a mobile device in the event of a bona fide emergency. Therefore, in the event of an emergency, you can use and hold your phone while driving so that you can call 911.

Key Provisions of Indiana’s Hands-Free Law

Under the Hands-Free Law, drivers are not allowed to hold or interact with a mobile device while driving. This means no texting, emailing, or using any app on the phone that requires manual input.

While this law does prevent the use and holding of a mobile device while driving, the code does carve out an exception, in which “[a] telecommunications device may be used in conjunction with hands free or voice operated technologies.” Therefore, the law does permit the use of hands-free technology, such as Bluetooth, voice-activated commands, or a mounted phone holder. This enables drivers to make calls, use GPS, or access music without taking their hands off the wheel.


Violating the Hands-Free Law can result in fines and potential license points. Subsequent offenses may incur increased fines, and for repeat offenders, their driving privileges could be suspended.

Why Embrace the Hands-Free Law?

  • Safer Roads: Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents, injuries, and fatalities on the roads. By complying with the Hands-Free Law, drivers can significantly reduce the risk of accidents caused by smartphone distractions.
  • Focus on Driving: When drivers use their phones while driving, their attention is diverted from the road, and reaction times are delayed. Embracing hands-free communication allows drivers to maintain their focus on driving and make quick decisions when needed.
  • Setting a Positive Example: Complying with the Hands-Free Law sets a positive example for passengers, especially younger ones, who are more likely to adopt responsible driving habits in the future.
  • Legal Consequences: Violating the Hands-Free Law can result in fines and penalties, leading to increased insurance costs and potential legal issues. Adhering to the law ensures that drivers avoid unnecessary expenses and maintain a clean driving record.

What if I am caught violating the Hands-Free Law?

While Indiana officers are now allowed to pull you over and ticket you if they find you in violation of this law, this law does prohibit an officer from doing certain things.

To begin, a police officer may NOT, without your consent, confiscate your mobile device to determine if you were using it while driving. Thus, if you are pulled over because an officer believes he/she thought they saw you using your phone, you are NOT required to turn your phone over to the police.

Moreover, a police officer may not remove your phone and keep it as evidence pending a trial for violating this law. Ind. So, if you are ticketed for violating this law, an officer is not allowed to remove your phone from your possession until you appear in court.

Lastly, an officer is not allowed to extract or download content or information from your device for violating this law. Therefore, if you are pulled over by a police officer, and with your consent, they examine your phone, the officer is not permitted to download or extract any evidence from your phone. However, there are exceptions to this prohibition. An officer may extract or download information from your phone if: 1) the officer has probable cause that the device was used in the commission of a crime, 2) the officer has a valid search warrant, or 3) if the officer is otherwise authorized by law.


Indiana’s Hands-Free Law represents a crucial step towards promoting road safety in the digital age. By discouraging distracted driving, the law aims to protect drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and everyone on the road. As responsible members of the community, it is essential for all drivers in Indiana to embrace hands-free communication while behind the wheel.

However, it is still important to know your rights if you are pulled over for violating this law. If you or someone you know has been ticketed for violating this law or just have questions about the law and its implications, contact one of the Indiana criminal law attorneys of McNeelyLaw today.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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