VIDEO: Distracted Driving in Mass.

The Massachusetts Senate on Jan. 21 is expected to begin debating proposed legislation that would ban handheld cell phone use while driving.

The bill seeks to prohibit the use of any mobile electronic device while operating a vehicle, unless the driver operates the device hands-free.

A first offense would carry a $100 fine, and a second violation would cost $250. Third and subsequent violations would each carry a $500 fine.

A driver who makes a phone call to report an emergency might qualify for exemption.

A texting-while-driving ban has been in effect in Massachusetts since 2010. Additionally, drivers under 18 are already prohibited from using a cell phone while driving.

State Senator Mark Montigny, who has long pushed for a hands-free phone law in the commonwealth, introduced the bill.

For several years, many safety advocates in Massachusetts have argued that the state's driver texting ban was insufficient and difficult to enforce. To view a WCVB Channel 5 editorial in favor of adopting the hands-free phone law, click on the photo or link below the headline.