Hands-Free and Distracted Driving Extra Enforcement

  • During the campaign, 230 agencies reported 1,403 citations from Aug. 1-8.
  • The St. Paul Police Department cited 449 drivers, 32 percent of all citations.
  • During the first year of the hands-free law, law enforcement across the state cited 20,811 drivers under the law that took effect Aug. 1, 2019.

 

Drivers Making Dangerous Choices 

  • In St. Paul, a 37-year-old man admitted to playing Pokemon Go while driving.
  • In Austin, police cited a driver steering with his knee, with both hands on his phone.
  • In Crookston, a trooper stopped a 31-year-old driver who admitted to holding his phone and changing music.
  • In St. Paul, a 44-year-old man was cited for manipulating one phone and then picking up another phone and making a call.
  • A trooper cited a 45-year-old male at Newfolden for holding his phone to his ear and talking to his wife while driving.
  • In St. Paul, police stopped a 20-year-old female twice in 20 minutes. The first time for typing an address into her GPS. The second time, the driver was changing songs on her cell phone while the phone was in a hands-free mount.
  • A trooper cited a 23-year-old male south of Thief River Falls for holding his phone and calling a coworker in the vehicle ahead of him.
  • In St. Paul, a 49-year-old man was cited for talking on his phone. The driver explained that he was a driving instructor and one of his students was calling him.

 

Find an entire list of citations by agency online.

 

Drive Smart and Park the Phone

Most Minnesotans understand parking the phone allows drivers to focus on the road. Early indications show the hands-free law may be making a difference in distraction-related crashes.

Date Range Total Fatalities Distraction-Related Percentage Distraction Related
Aug 1, 2019-July 1, 2020* 324 19 6%
Aug 1, 2018-July 1, 2019 338 33 10%
Aug 1, 2017-July 1, 2018 316 30 9%

*preliminary

Hands-Free Cell Phone Law Do’s and Don’ts

  • Don’t hold your phone while driving.
  • You can place your phone anywhere in the vehicle as long as you are not holding it with your hand. If mounted on the windshield, it must be in the lower part of the windshield, not obstructing your view.
  • The new law allows a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.
  • Drivers may not use their phone at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.
  • GPS devices and other systems that can only be used for navigation are exempt from the hands-free law. In-car screens and systems are also exempt. In both cases, most of these systems lock when the vehicle is moving.
  • Hand-held phone use is allowed to obtain emergency assistance, if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.
  • More FAQs are available at HandsFreeMN.org

 

Hands-Free Cell Phone Consequences

  • Penalties for this violation can include:
    • More than $120 that includes the fine plus court costs for a first offense.
    • More than $300 that includes the fine plus court costs for a subsequent offense.
    • Potential for increased insurance rates.
    • If you injure or kill someone under the hands-free law, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.

 

Distracted Driving is Dangerous Driving

  • More than 50,000 crashes were distracted driving-related from 2015-2019, contributing to one in seven crashes in Minnesota.
  • Distracted driving contributed to 3,279 injuries and 32 deaths in 2019.
  • Distracted driving contributes to an average of 40 deaths and 195 life-changing injuries a year (2015 – 2019).

Distracted Driving 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 Total
Fatalities 72 41 24 29 32 198
Serious Injuries 173 254 218 179 149 973