By: Tara Blue

Governor Mike Parsons signed the Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law (RSMo. 304.822) which took effect on August 28th, 2023.

The law prohibits all drivers from holding or physically supporting using an electronic communication device (cell phone, computer, tablet, etc.) while driving. This includes manually typing, writing, sending, or reading text-based messages; recording, posting, sending or broadcasting video, including video calls and social media posts; and watching a video or movie.

The law is named after Randall Siddens and Michael Bening, two Missouri men killed by distracted drivers.

Distracted driving is a leading cause of crashes in Missouri. Between 2012 and 2021, there were nearly 200,000 distracted driving-related crashes in Missouri, resulting in at least 801 fatalities. Cell phone use is responsible for far more distracted driving crashes than are being reported, according to a recent report from the National Safety Council (modot).

Missouri drivers will have a grace period, with warnings issued until Jan. 1st, 2025. After the grace period, fines will begin at $150 and increase with severity of violation, with higher penalties in school and work zones.