ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Drivers will be required to use hands-free devices to send messages or place a call while driving on Minnesota roads starting Aug. 1 under a bill that Gov. Tim Walz signed in April to crack down on the growing problem of distracted driving.
Minnesota is joining 16 states and the District of Columbia with similar laws.
So, under the hands-free bill, what can’t I do?
Minnesota already bans texting, emailing and web browsing while driving, but beginning in August, motorists will be required to have their cellphones in hands-free or voice-activated mode while operating a vehicle.
Having your phone in-hand, manually entering in a phone number or an address into a navigation app is not OK.
Hands-free technology like Bluetooth, allows a driver to do this without actually holding their phone. For those without Bluetooth access, Minnesota State Patrol says earbuds are an option as long as you only have one earbud in while driving.
What about tucking a cell phone into a headscarf or hijab?
Law enforcement says as long as it’s in hands-free mode and if people are not handling the phone between conversations, that is not considered a violation of the law.
Can I use my GPS device?
If you’re using your cell phone for GPS officials say you can’t type in or look up an address while operating your car; enter an address in advance.
What is the penalty for violating the new law?
After August 1. police can stop anyone they see holding a phone while driving. The law will carry a $50 fine for the first violation and $275 after that.