The state legislature has enacted a new distracted driving law which is designed to keep your mind on the road and your hands on the wheel. This law became effective on June 30, 2023. The new law, MCL 257.602b, puts into place a “hands-free” rule that prohibits you from holding onto your phone to text, call, or surf the web while driving. The law introduces these restrictions in an effort to ensure that drivers stay focused on the road and avoid potential accidents caused by distractions.
The Basics: What the Law Says
Under the new law, individuals are generally prohibited from holding or using a mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. This includes using the device for tasks such as sending or receiving telephone calls, text messages, or accessing social networking sites while driving.
Look Mom, No Hands!
Although many of us are used to being prohibited from texting while driving, the most noteworthy part of this new legislature is the new prohibition on taking calls when driving. Or more specifically, using your hands to take a call when driving. The use of mobile electronic devices in a hands-free or voice-operated mode is still allowed or permitted. The State just wants to make sure that you keep your hands at “10 and 2”. It is recommended that you purchase a dashboard phone holder at any major retailer such as Walmart, Meijer, or Amazon to help your transition to hands-free phone calls, but keep in mind that a single swipe or tap can get you into trouble.
Other Exceptions to the Rule
As with most laws, there are certain exceptions to the general prohibition. These are not particularly helpful for the average driver, but school buses, commercial motor vehicles, and emergency vehicles are exempt from the hands-free rule. In an emergency which requires you to be on the phone with 9-1-1, the use of a mobile electronic device is allowed, and you won’t be in trouble for using your hands to make the call.
Consequences to Breaking the Law
Failing to adhere to the new restrictions can end up taking a toll on your bank account and requiring you to use precious time to make up for your mistake. For the first offense, the fine is $100.00, or 16 hours of community service, or both. For subsequent violations, the fine increases to $250.00, or 24 hours of community service, or both. It's also worth noting that if a driver violates this law and is involved in an accident for which they are at fault, the civil fine will be doubled.
A Roadmap for the Future
According to Michigan.gov, roughly 6% of crashes in Michigan involved a distracted driver. The legislature has determined that reducing distraction created by phone calls and texting on the road is a proactive step that we can all take towards making the roads safer for all of us. Being familiar with this law and adhering to it will be safer for you and prevent the possibility of unfortunate consequences in the future.Drive safely and keep your hands where we can see them!