Starting Aug. 1 in Minnesota it will be against the law to hold a cell phone at all while driving.
“You can use your phone still all the time if you don’t have a provisional driver’s license. So if you’re over 18 you can still use your phone, but it just has to be through hands-free. So there’s many devices you can buy, most vehicles now are Bluetooth so you can just run the phone through your vehicle,” said Sgt. Troy Christianson of the Minnesota State Patrol.
Governor Tim Walz signed the Hands-Free Cell Phone bill into law in April.
Now the Minnesota State Patrol is gearing up to enforce the new rule.
“I think it helps to keep people safe. Sometimes technology is something we utilize a little too often and we get sucked into using it when we shouldn’t be and when it’s not safe,” said Tammy Stremcha of Nodine, Minnesota.
Currently in Minnesota drivers can make calls and hold their phones, but cannot text or use social media.
According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, distracted driving caused nearly one out of every five crashes in the state between 2014 and 2018.
“Law enforcement’s well aware of that distracted driving and cell phone use is a major problem in the state. And that’s what we’re hoping with this law is that we need to make sure we educate people on the dangers of distracted driving and also the risk it takes when you’re actually holding your phone, not paying attention to driving,” said Christianson.
Minnesota will become the 19th state to go fully hands-free.
Karen Vance recently moved to Winona from Connecticut.
“Hands-free has been in effect in Connecticut for quite a while now, quite a few years. So I think it’s a really good idea to do it in Minnesota because I have noticed a lot of people on their phones and not paying attention to where they’re driving,” said Vance.
The first violation will cost around $140 between a ticket and court fees.
The next ticket jumps to $275.
In Wisconsin, it is not illegal to hold or make a call on your phone while driving unless you are driving with a probationary license or instruction permit or going through a work zone.