by Forrest Cyr, MNLA Government Affairs Director
Governor Tim Walz signed the hands-free bill into law on April 12, requiring drivers to use hands-free mode for all cellular devices while operating a vehicle. The law prohibits the use of cellphones while driving when the device is not in hands-free mode. The law provides exceptions for emergency calls and for handheld cell use in dangerous situations.
The bill is effective August 1, 2019.
MNLA members should take appropriate measures to ensure compliance with the hands-free cellphone law. Members should equip personal and company vehicles with hands-free cellphone capability and ensure that all employees are educated on – and compliant with -- the new law.
Under the new law, it is illegal for a driver to hold a phone to their ear while operating a vehicle, scroll through contacts, text messages, or addresses, or interface with their phone beyond voice control through a Bluetooth device or similar technology.
Exceptions to the new law include hailing emergency services or making a call while in situations of immediate danger. Also, drivers can use GPS, as long as the operator is not scrolling or typing on the device, and the address is entered prior to the vehicle moving.
Under the new law, members of law enforcement can stop a driver seen holding a cell phone after August 1, 2019.
Penalties for unlawful phone use is $50 for the first violation, and $275 for each additional violation, increased from the current $225 for unlawful phone use after the first violation.
Contact Forrest Cyr at 612-248-4463 with any questions and check out this article from MPR to get more information.