A bill that would make it a crime to make phone calls while driving, and otherwise use wireless devices while driving, unless in hands free mode is moving forward in the legislature and is expected to pass as a law.
Currently, Minnesota law prohibits composing, reading, or sending electronic messages, when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. The making a phone call or talking on the phone while driving is not currently against the law except for newly licensed drivers.
The new law would make it a misdemeanor crime to use any wireless device while driving or in traffic, unless the device is being used in hands free mode. The proposed language of the law reads as follows:
No person may operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. For the purposes of this section, “using a wireless communications device” includes: (1) composing, reading, or sending an electronic (2) dialing, answering, or talking on a cellular phone; and (3) otherwise making a cellular phone call.
Permissible exceptions to the use of wireless devices would still include the use (1) solely in a voice-activated or other hands-free mode, (2) for obtaining emergency assistance to report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious traffic hazard, or prevent a crime about to be committed, (3) in the reasonable belief that a person’s life or safety is in immediate danger, or (5) in an authorized emergency vehicle while in the performance of official duties.
Coley Grostyan is a Minnesota criminal defense attorney who regularly represents clients accused of traffic violations.