📴 There is a 12-month grace period before fines are issued

📴 Offenders do not get any points on their license

📴 The bill is named after a man killed as a result of distracted driving

With the stroke of Gov. Josh Shapiro's pen, Pennsylvania becomes the 29th state that does not allow use of a handheld phone while driving.

Drivers in Pennsylvania are now prohibited from sending, reading or writing a text while holding a phone behind the wheel. The new law carries a $50 fine with no points. Fines will not be issued during a grace period in effect for the first year of the law. Drivers can still use their phones hands-free or to make an emergency call.

Shapiro said he would sign the bill as soon as it passed the legislature.

“I have met too many people with injuries they’ll live with for the rest of their lives
because they were hit by a distracted driver – and too many families that have an empty
seat at the dinner table because of distracted driving,” Shapiro said in a statement.

Portrait of Paul Miller
Portrait of Paul Miller (State Sen. Rosemary Parks)

Paul Miller Jr.'s Law

The bill was named after Paul Miller Jr. who died at the age of 21 in 2010 in a crash with the distracted driver of a tractor-trailer. His parents Paul and Eileen Miller pushed for the bill push the legislation since learning the reason for the crash.

"I held that honor to him – and today is Paul Miller's law. I’ve gotten it done, Paul, I did it. This is for every family that is in Pennsylvania that doesn't have to have two state troopers knocking on their door to tell them that their loved one was killed by something so preventable as distracted driving," Eileen Miller said during the signing ceremony.

PennDOT Secretary Mike Carroll said that in 2023, there were over 11,000 crashes in Pennsylvania that involved a distracted driver.

“Driving requires 100% of your attention 100% of the time, and this bill – which I was proud to support as Minority Chair of the House Transportation Committee – is an important step forward in discouraging distracted driving and keeping everyone safe on the road," Carroll said.

Paul Miller Sr. and Gov. Josh Shapiro at "Paul Miller's Law" signing 6/5/24
Paul Miller Sr. and Gov. Josh Shapiro at "Paul Miller's Law" signing 6/5/24 (Gov. Josh Shapiro)

Other parts of the new law

There are two other provisions to the law.

One requires minors to learn about distracted driving and include at least one question on the state driver’s exam about distracted driving, according to Rep. Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia, majority chairman of the House Transportation Committee.

The law also includes a provision long-sought by the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus as a bulwark against racial profiling. That provision requires bigger police departments, as well as the Pennsylvania State Police, to collect and publicly report data on traffic stops, including a driver's race.

(Includes material Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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