Connecticut bans handheld phones behind wheel

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Connecticut has become the third state, after New York and New Jersey, to nix using handheld cell phones while driving.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell signed the bill into law in July. Violators face a $100 fine beginning Oct. 1. The restriction applies not only to cell phones but to the use of any mobile electronic device while driving and to any other distractions not directly related to vehicle operation, such as reading or putting on cosmetics. It does not, however, apply to emergency calls.

Persons younger than 18 and school bus drivers now are prohibited from using any phones while driving.

The District of Columbia and cities such as Chicago and Santa Fe, N.M., have approved comparable restrictions.

Less than a dozen states have laws prohibiting teens from using cell phones while driving.