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Phones down: Michigan’s Distracted Driving is in Effect

Using a cell phone or other mobile electronic device while driving is now illegal in Michigan under a law that went into effect on June 30th.  

In early May, the Michigan House and Senate passed House Bills 4250, 4251, and 4252 to amend parts of the Michigan Vehicle Code in an effort to reduce distracted-driving crashes and deaths.  

The laws make holding or using a cell phone while driving a primary offense — meaning an officer could pull someone over and ticket them for it. The legislation defines holding a cell phone or electronic device as physically supporting it with “any part of the hands, arms or shoulders.” 

Michigan is now one of 26 states that have enacted similar bans. 

According to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP), if a person is caught holding or using a cell phone, or mobile electronic device, while driving a regular motor vehicle, they would face a $100 fine, 16 hours of community service, or both. 

Commercial vehicle drivers caught holding or using a cell phone are subject to a $200 fine, 32 hours of community service, or both. In each category, subsequent offenses would incur additional penalties. 

Generally, using voice commands or hands-free modes to use mobile electronic devices is allowed, OHSP wrote in a statement about the new law. 

“For over a decade, commercial motor vehicle drivers, including farmers, have been prohibited from using handheld mobile phones following a rule from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration,” said Andrew Vermeesch, MFB legislative counsel. 

“Similar prohibition now applies to all motorists. It’s important for motorist to know the new law as we move into the Fourth of July weekend.” 

In addition to using voice commands or hands-free modes, there are a few other exceptions to the law, including: 

  • Law enforcement, first responders, and other emergency workers are not prohibited from using a cell phone while performing official duties. 

  • The same exception goes for anyone calling or texting 911 to report an emergency or seek help. 

  • Drivers will still be allowed to use their GPS, but only if it's hands-free. Phones could be used as navigation systems so long as it is in a hands-free fashion, such as mounting it to the dashboard or using voice commands to control it. 

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