RI's new hands-free law goes into effect June 1

Drivers in Rhode Island are going to have to put their phones down or risk a $100 fine beginning June 1, 2018. (WJAR)

Drivers in Rhode Island are going to have to put their phones down or risk a $100 fine beginning June 1.

State police are fully aware of the risks of chatting on their phones.

“Any distraction whatsoever is dangerous,” Sgt. Charles LeValley told NBC 10 News. “It’s just as dangerous as drunk driving.”

LeValley is eager to enforce the new law and will pull over anybody holding their phone while they are talking and driving.

“You have to have both hands available for the wheel,” he said. “You can pick it up to look at whatever you have to look at, but you have to put it back down."

LeValley knows it's going to be tough for Rhode Island drivers to get used to the new law.

“It's going to have to become muscle memory or become a habit for people -- and it's going to take time,” LeValley said.

Lawmakers who drew up legislation realized that and included a provision that will let people on their first offense buy a handsfree system to escape the fine.

“You bring a receipt that you bought that to the judge at the traffic tribunal and they'll dismiss the ticket for the first offense,” LeValley said.

But after the first offense, it’s $100 for each ticket.

There will be more publicity from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation as the implementation of the law approaches.

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