Looking for directions to a lunch meeting? Trying to download your new favorite song to rock out to on the way to your workout? Need to make a call? Do those things with your phone in your hand behind the wheel and it could cost you a pretty penny.

Meridian's Hands Free Ordinance was officially approved in October 2019 and went into effect on November 1 but Meridian Police officers who found people in violation of the new rule were letting people slide with a warning while they became familiar with the new restrictions. That "get out of jail free" pass came to a close January 1.

Under the ordinance, it's illegal for drivers on any roadway within Meridian city limits to be holding their cell phone behind the wheel for any reason. That includes while drivers are stopped at stoplights or stop signs. Those found violating the ordinance will be fines $90 plus court costs.

According to the City of Meridian's website there are a few exceptions to the ordinance:

  • Police officers, firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians or other first responders may use a handheld cell phone behind the wheel while performing official duties.
  • Public utility employees or contractors responding to public utility emergencies may use a handheld cell phone as long as they're acting within the scope of their employment.
  • Drivers experiencing an emergency who need to use a handheld device to communicate with law enforcement, fire department, health care providers or other emergency service agencies while driving may do so.

If you do need to use your cellphone behind the wheel, make sure that it's mounted on your dash, accessible through a handsfree service like Apple Car Play or bluetooth connection. You can still make calls, access music or use GPS features through handsfree options as long as they're accessible by a single button push to activate voice communication.