According to WI DOT, starting October 1, 2016 it is illegal to talk on a handheld phone while driving in a Wisconsin work zone. See law below.
While its nice to see new laws attempting to protect vulnerable users of the road including highway works, Wisconsin is way behind the times with this law. California has been hands free for at least five years and bans any phone use by drivers under 18.
When reading the law below it seems as though it will be near impossible to enforce. It allows appears to allow a driver to activate or deactive a feature on the phone with his or her hands.
A better law would be that any person seen holding a phone behind the wheel of a car is subject to a $1,000 fine. Any citizen who provides evidence of a driver holding a phone behind the wheel (photo taken of a driver by a passenger in another car) gets a $500 reward for making our roads safer (out of the $1,000 fine). This would make drivers afraid to touch their phones behind the wheel because they could be caught at any time and it would cost them $1,000. It would make us all safer.
2015 WISCONSIN ACT 308
An Act to amend 346.95 (1); and to create 346.89 (4m) of the statutes; relating to: the use of a cellular or other wireless telephone while driving a motor vehicle in a construction zone and providing a penalty.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:
Section 1. 346.89 (4m) of the statutes is created to read:
346.89 (4m) No person may drive, as defined in s. 343.305 (1) (b), any motor vehicle while using a cellular or other wireless telephone, including using the telephone for a purpose other than communication, where persons engaged in work in a highway maintenance or construction area or in a utility work area are at risk from traffic, except to report an emergency. This subsection does not apply to the use of a voice-operated or hands-free device if the driver of the motor vehicle does not use his or her hands to operate the device, except to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the device.
Section 2. 346.95 (1) of the statutes is amended to read:
346.95 (1) Any person violating s. 346.87, 346.88, 346.89 (4), (4m), or (5), 346.90 to 346.92, or 346.94 (1), (9), (10), (11), (12), or (15) may be required to forfeit not less than $20 nor more than $40 for the first offense and not less than $50 nor more than $100 for the 2nd or subsequent conviction within a year.
Section 3. Effective date.
(1) This act takes effect on the first day of the 7th month beginning after publication.