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Rep. Mekeland urges drivers to adapt to new hands-free cell phone law

Monday, July 22, 2019

ST. PAUL – State Rep. Shane Mekeland, R-Clear Lake, urges drivers to prepare for an Aug. 1 change in law prohibiting the use of hand-held electronic devices such as cell phones when behind the wheel.

The new law requires drivers to use voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone in order to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and use navigation systems. Mekeland said the new law will mark a significant change in the way many individuals use a cell phone while driving.

“This new law isn’t perfect, but the bottom line is that it’s up to drivers themselves to put their phones down and keep their eyes on the road,” Mekeland said. “The public awareness generated by this statute taking effect could have as big an impact as anything in getting people’s attention to the seriousness of this issue. I’m interested to see if the hands-free law will translate to fewer distracted-driving incidents and whether we may need to revisit this issue and make some tweaks to the law in future legislative sessions. For now, let’s figure out what methods work best for us to make the hands-free transition and see if distracted driving is mitigated.”

While individuals will no longer be able to physically hold a cell phone while operating a vehicle, drivers also are prohibited from 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.

Exceptions are allowed for individuals 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.

GPS systems may still be used, but destination programming must be performed ahead of time, before a driver enters the roadway.

Mekeland urges constituents to reach out to his office if they have any questions or concerns regarding the new law or to visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website:


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