Michigan will soon become the 26th state with a hands-free mobile phone driving law, making it illegal to hold or use a mobile electronic device while operating a vehicle, including when stopped at a light or in a traffic jam. The provisions of the law make sending or receiving a call or text message, viewing video, scrolling, posting to social media or any online search activity on a phone illegal for an active driver.
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the law into effect on June 7 with bipartisan support. It updates a 2010 Michigan law that banned texting while driving to include other uses of mobile devices.
The law will go into effect June 30. Some local communities in Michigan have instituted local ordinances making use of a mobile device illegal while operating a vehicle illegal in those communities. State law supersedes any such local ordinances.
According to the Detroit Regional Chamber, nearly 6 percent of all auto accidents in Michigan, roughly 16,500 in total, involved a distracted driver. A total of 59 fatalities occurred from those accidents. Additionally, 18.1 percent of all accidents that included a driver under 21 involved distracted driving.
Below are some questions and answers about the new bill:
What are the exceptions to this law?
- Calling 911 or first responders.
- Using a GPS or navigation feature as long as the information is not entered by hand.
- Using the device in a voice-operated or hands-free mode. It will be permissible to use a single button press, tap or swipe to activate or deactivate the device or to select a name or phone number. It also will be OK to use permanently installed user interfaces integrated into the vehicle.
- Using the device if it is mounted and used in accordance with other exemptions.
- Working as a first responder or utility worker responding to an emergency or testing or operating an automated driving system.
What are the penalties?
- The first violation is a $100 fine, 16 hours of community service or both.
- A second violation results in a $250 fine, 24 hours of community service or both.
Driving Record Impacts
- A point will be added to one’s driving record for a second violation. Two points for a third or subsequent violation. Any points will have an adverse effect on the cost of auto insurance and could eventually lead to a suspended license.
- Someone who has three or more infractions within three years must complete a basic driver improvement course.
- Bus drivers and truckers will face higher penalties.
What does it mean that using a mobile device while driving is a “primary offense?”
A primary offense relates to an action that by law allows law enforcement officials to pull someone over solely for that action. In other words, a police officer who sees a driver actively using a mobile device can pull the driver over for that infraction alone.
What about Bluetooth devices?
The law doesn't apply to hands-free Bluetooth devices. However, physically dialing a number rather than using voice commands would qualify as an offense.
Are out-of-state drivers subject to these penalties?
Motorists from other states visiting Michigan must abide by the law while traveling in Michigan, even if they live in a state without such a law. The state of Michigan is investing in a campaign to educate and inform all drivers of the law through road signage, public service announcements and more.
What if my vehicle is not equipped with Bluetooth capability?
The law is in effect for all drivers. Manual air pods or earpieces can be used to connect with a mobile phone hands-free. The only legal way for a driver to dial a number using a Bluetooth device is to do so using voice activation.
For questions related to a recent auto, truck or motorcycle accident, the experienced auto accident attorneys at Bashore Green can help. Call 248-487-1887 to learn more or to schedule your free consultation.