Poll: Do you text and drive?

HARTFORD — Tougher penalties for drivers who violate Connecticut’s cell phone ban and streamlined environmental permitting for development projects are among the new state laws set to kick in Friday that were passed by the General Assembly.

Connecticut currently bans using hand-held mobile telephones and other devices while driving. This latest law eliminates a one-time exemption from a state fine for first-time violators who provide proof they acquired a hands-free device for the phone between the time the violation occurred and the fine was imposed.

The new law also makes it clear that the ban also applies to texting while driving.

“There can be no more ‘grace period’ for a motorist caught using a hand-held phone in their car, and if you get caught texting, you pay,” said Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who advocated for the changes during the session. “There is nothing that urgent that is worth a life.”

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Keith Whamond