New Brunswick drivers will be prohibited from using their cellphones or other hand-held devices such as GPS units, or risk being fined, starting later this spring.

The Progressive Conservative government passed a new law cracking down on distracted driving in December, but it has not yet been enforced.

Public Safety Minister Robert Trevors said the provincial government wanted to make sure there was enough public awareness around the law before it was enacted.

"We should be very close to getting our education material together and our advertisements out and getting the public aware it's coming into effect," Trevors said.

Trevors said he is striving to have the regulatory changes approved by April 1. However, once the Progressive Conservative cabinet signs off on the changes, they must be posted on the government's website for 30 days to allow for public comment.

Trevors said there will be no grace period for drivers who break the law after the rules come into force.

The fine for using a cellphone while driving will be $172.50.

New Brunswick drivers will be allowed to talk on their cellphones if they are being used in a hands-free manner and to use cellphones while driving to report an emergency or to call 911.

The new legislation also exempts cellphone use by police, fire and ambulance staff while on duty.

New Brunswick was one of the last provinces to impose rules on cellphones while driving.