If you haven’t heard, Minnesota will be going hands -free soon, which means you can be fined for driving while on your cell phone later this year. However, Minnesota’s decision to go hands-free isn’t all about collecting fines. Many other states have been hands-free for years and making it the law to be hands-free helps promote safer driving.
The hands-free bill is already on track to go into effect as law on August 1, 2019. Back on April 12, 2019, Governor Tim Walz signed the bill, agreeing to make the law go into work later in the year. If you don’t know the ins and outs of the new law, we’ve got you covered.
What’s Allowed Under the New Bill?
If you’ve got Apple CarPlay or you’ve made friends with Siri or other voice assistants like her, then you’ll be OK. Under the new law, you are allowed to use your cell phone to text, make calls, listen to music, or navigate if you are using voice commands or a single-touch activation advice like CarPlay. However, you can’t be doing any of these things while holding the phone.
The new law makes it clear that you cannot hold the phone in your hand while you are driving. You also can’t be using your phone to make video calls, do any video live streaming, operate Snapchat, perform gaming, watch videos or glance at photos on the phone, access apps that aren’t related to navigation, read texts, or perform any scrolling or typing actions.
When Can I Hold My Phone?
You are allowed to hold your phone under the new law for a few reasons. You can use it to get emergency help. You are also allowed to hold your phone if there is an imminent threat to somebody’s life or safety. Last, holding a phone is also allowed when inside an authorized emergency vehicle is performing its necessary tasks.
You are also still allowed to use a GPS navigation device. Any GPS or other system that is only used for navigation doesn’t fall under the new hands-free law. So if you have a traditional navigation with an in-car screen or a navigation device you like using, you are still allowed to use them under the new law. Typically, most navigation only systems lock when the car is on the move.
How Does the New Law Impact Teens?
For teens under 18 years old that have a driver’s permit of provisional driver’s license, the new hands-free law does not impact things for them at all. Nothing changes for teens under the new law, and they are simply not allowed to make or answer calls while driving whether they are doing it hands-free or not. Teens are allowed to use their phones hands-free under these circumstances:
- When teens are utilizing their phone’s GPS apps, but they are only allowed to do this in hands-free mode. Prior to driving, the teen must make sure the destination is already set. While driving, the teen is not allowed to hold his or her phone.
- When teens are listening to music in hands-free mode, but they are not allowed to use their phones to hand scroll through playlists.
- When dialing 911 because there is an emergency. Teens are allowed to use their phones when there is a threatening situation.