Starting on Aug. 1, Minnesota’s expanded distracted driving law, which makes it illegal for drivers to hold a cellphone, goes into effect, reports Bluff Country News.
Presently, Minnesota motorists are prohibited from texting while driving but the new measure bans drivers from holding a cellphone or other wireless device while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion or operating as a part of traffic on a street or highway, according to the report.
Instead, drivers must use hands-free technology when sending messages, making calls, accessing music, or programming navigation systems via their cellphones. They can, however, make calls and use navigation with either one-touch or voice commands.
It also is legal to use a device or clothing, such as a headscarf, to secure a phone against a driver’s head, reports Twincities.com.
The new law brings with it rising penalties as a driver’s violations mount. For a first offense, officers can choose to issue either a warning or a citation with an initial fine of $50. But penalties can climb as high as $275 for repeat offenders.
State data indicates that Minnesota has lost an average of 60 people a year to distracted driving. In addition, there are approximately 234 serious injuries and 1,695 minor injuries each year attributed to drivers not focusing on the road, reports Twincities.com
The hands-free bill was sponsored by Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis) and Sen. Scott Newman (R-Hutchinson).