On April 12, 2019 Gov. Tim Walz signed the “hands free while driving” bill into law, that went into effect August 1st. Minnesota joined 17 other states requiring drivers to be “hands free” of electronic devices while driving.
Although it was already illegal for drivers to send messages while driving, this new law prohibits drivers from scrolling, dialing, and searching while behind the wheel. Now, law enforcement may pull you over and issue a ticket if they observe you holding a phone while driving. Penalties for violating the law carry a $50 fine for the first violation and $275 fine for subsequent violations and is considered a petty misdemeanor.
While this may seem like a major inconvenience, new technology is keeping up, and you are still able to use some services on your way home from work, or en route to pick up kids. Here is what is allowed:
GPS. Drivers are still able to use GPS, but cannot scroll while the vehicle is in motion. So make sure you destination is punched in before the vehicle starts moving.
Phone calls. Bluetooth technology allows drivers the ability to make and receive calls hands free, as do devices that are affixed or integrated into a vehicle.
Podcasts. You are still able to access your favorite podcasts, so long as it is activated prior to putting your car in motion.
Driving no-no’s. Be mindful when getting stopped by trains or stop lights, as you are still operating a vehicle and should not reach for your phone. Smart watches may only be used as a watch while driving, sending messages or using the calling features are prohibited. As always, stopping on the shoulder or side of any road is against the law; if you need to make or receive a phone call using your hands, find a safe spot to do so.