One-Month Countdown Nears For District of Columbia's Hands-Free Law

WASHINGTON, DC — Motorists in the District of Columbia have just over a month to get ready to comply with a new D.C. law requiring drivers to use hands-free devices when talking on their wireless phones. Starting July 1, 2004, motorists could face a $100 fine for talking on wireless phones without using hands-free devices.

During Wireless Safety Week, May 24 — 28, 2004, Verizon Wireless reminds all wireless phone users to take steps now to comply with the law that will take effect this summer. A similar law takes effect July 1 throughout New Jersey, and is already in effect throughout New York State.

"We believe educating drivers about how to use wireless phones responsibly while driving enhances road safety for everyone," said Patrick Devlin, Verizon Wireless regional president, Washington/Baltimore/Virginia.

Here are some responsible driving tips:

  • Remember -- safe driving is always your first responsibility when behind the wheel.
  • Activate your voicemail service if you haven't already, so you won't miss a call if traffic conditions prevent you from answering the phone. You can retrieve your messages later.
  • Program important and frequently dialed numbers into your phone to take advantage of speed dialing and voice dialing features on your phone.
  • Never take notes or write down phone numbers while driving. Rather, pull off the road to a safe spot or leave yourself a message on your voice mail or voice-memo-capable handset.
  • A headset allows you to keep both hands on the wheel when you need to use your wireless phone. Verizon Wireless headsets begin at $14.99 and fit many phone models, even those sold by other providers.

Consumers have a number of choices available to help them comply with the new law. In addition to universally compatible headsets, phones with built-in speakerphones and voice-activated dialing are readily available. The phone can be fastened easily to a car's vent or visor and removed when you leave the vehicle. No installation or hard wiring is necessary.

Hands-free car kits, which provide a cradle for the phone and an external microphone, offer drivers another option for complying with the new law.

Over the past three years, Verizon Wireless has provided thousands of its driver education program kits to schools nationwide. Entitled vIQ for Vehicle Intelligence Quest, the kit contains a video and printed materials to help teach new drivers about wireless safety behind the wheel.

For more information on hands-free options, customers can visit a Verizon Wireless Communications Store or review products and accessories at  

Note: Washington, DC's law takes effect on July 1, 2004. The $100 fine will be waived for first-time violators who show proof of purchase of a hands-free accessory.

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 39 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto