BOSTON — A law that bars drivers in Massachusetts from using hand-held cell phones behind the wheel takes effect Sunday.

The law signed by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in November brings Massachusetts in line with every other New England state.

Texting while driving had already been outlawed, but now drivers won't be allowed to talk on or dial their phones unless they have a hands-free device. Cell phone use is allowed to report an emergency.

Under the law, violators will get a warning until April 1. After that, a first offense will mean a $100 fine, the second a $250 fine, and subsequent offenses a $500 penalty.

Senator Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) is the author of the law. He filed the first version of the bill 15 years ago.

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