With an endless supply of entertainment, technology and communication abilities at our fingertips, it seems almost impossible to detach ourselves from mobile devices for any significant period of time. Even while driving, the temptation to respond to a text message or an email is sometimes too strong to overcome. To help fight the urge to send a perfectly played GIF to the group chat while stuck in a traffic jam, the State of Michigan has enacted new legislation which now makes it illegal to do so while driving. And, yes, that includes while you’re stopped at a red light.
On June 30, 2023, amendments to the Michigan Vehicle Code will go into effect, making it illegal for drivers to “hold or use a mobile or electronic device to do any task, including, but not limited to” the following:
Send or receive a telephone call,
Send, receive, or read a text message,
View, record, or transmit a video, and
Access, read or post to a social networking site.
What’s more, it will also be illegal to reach for a mobile electronic device in a manner that requires the driver to maneuver so that the driver is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seatbelt. So no more reaching for that phone that fell onto the floor anymore either!
However, with every rule there are exceptions. In conjunction with, and during performance of their duties, law enforcement officers, first responders and public utilities employees responding to a public utilities emergency may still make use of mobile electronic devices. Likewise, citizens may still use their devices for emergency purposes, calling 9-1-1, or reporting hazards, accidents, crimes, or unsafe driving to the appropriate authorities.
In addition to the exceptions referenced above, each driver will be allowed one free push by using “a single button to press, tap, or swipe to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the mobile electronic device or to select a telephone number or name.” But remember, drivers are still not permitted to hold their devices so if you make or accept that call, do so in a hands-free manner.
GPS may also be used so long as the information is not entered into the device by hand.
Any violation of the new laws will result in a civil fine of $100.00 or 16 hours of community service, or both, for a first offense. A second or subsequent offense carries a fine of $250.00 or 24 hours of community service, or both. For operators of commercial motor vehicles or school buses, the penalty starts at $200.00 and 32 hours of community service and increases to $500.00 and 48 hours for subsequent violations. And, as these changes were implemented to promote safe driving, should an operator cause an accident while illegally using their mobile phone, the penalties are doubled. New drivers, operating under a level 1 or level 2 graduated license face further restrictions and are not permitted to “initiate or answer a call, or listen to or engage in verbal communication through the cellular telephone.”
For more information, the amended sections of the Michigan Vehicle Code can be found at MCL 257.602b and MCL 257.602c.
Here’s to wishing you all happy, safe, and hands-free travels!