Minnesota’s relatively lax distracted-driving laws will grow new teeth on August 1, 2019, when the hands-free cellphone law goes into effect. Currently, it is illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle. It is also illegal for drivers of any age to compose, send, or read text messages or emails behind the wheel. This applies even when stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic or stopped at an intersection. Starting in August, however, all motorists will be prohibited from holding a mobile device in their hand under most circumstances.
Read on to learn the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Minnesota’s new hands-free law:
1. Does the Hands-Free Law Permit Certain Kinds of Cellphone Use Behind the Wheel?
Under the new law, it is still legal for motorists to use their cellphone for certain functions as long as the device is in hands-free mode. Examples include making calls, texting, listening to music, and adjusting their navigation system (GPS systems in general are exempt from the new law). Specifically, drivers can perform these functions using voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.
2. Are There Any Exceptions to the Hands-Free Law?
Motorists are permitted to hold their mobile device while behind the wheel in emergency situations. If you need assistance or your safety is threatened, you may use your phone to call 911. Those performing official duties in emergency vehicles are also authorized to use handheld devices while driving.
3. What Will the Penalties Be for Violating the New Hands-Free Law?
If police catch you violating the new hands-free law after August 1, 2019, they can issue a ticket for $50. You’ll also be responsible for covering any resulting court fees, and your auto insurance premiums may increase. For second and subsequent offenders, the ticket will be $275 plus applicable court fees.
Need Legal Advice? Speak with a St. Cloud Car Accident Attorney Today
While the new hands-free cellphone law might deter some drivers from using their mobile device, there is little doubt that distracted driving will remain a leading cause of accidents. If you or a member of your family suffers an injury in a crash with a distracted motorist, contact Bradshaw & Bryant.
As previously mentioned, proving that the at-fault driver was using a cellphone can be challenging. It is unlikely that he or she will admit to wrongdoing or voluntarily hand over his or her cellphone records. Our attorneys can apply legal pressure to obtain evidence that’s being withheld, which could mean filing a subpoena to access records from the driver’s cellphone service provider.
We are passionate about helping accident victims and their families recover the compensation they deserve. We offer free consultations to prospective clients, and we don’t charge attorney’s fees unless we win. Call our office today at 320-259-5414 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer in St. Cloud.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.