We have all witnessed the alarming rise in drivers using mobile devices while operating a vehicle, despite warnings against it. From texting, checking social media, or responding to emails. In response to this problem, Michigan is implementing a new law effective June 30, 2023. This law prohibits drivers from holding or using a mobile device while driving, in most cases. Violators will face fines and mandatory community service hours as penalties.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving led to the tragic loss of 3,522 lives in 2021 alone. Michigan previously enacted a law in 2010 that prohibited texting while driving. However, the law had limitations, only applying when the vehicle was in motion and excluding other forms of mobile device usage. It became evident that a more comprehensive approach was necessary to combat distracted driving.

What exactly is banned under the new law?

The new law builds upon the foundation of the 2010 legislation and significantly broadens the scope of prohibited activities while operating a motor vehicle. Starting June 30, Michigan drivers will be prohibited from holding or using a mobile electronic device, such as a cell phone, while driving. This includes activities like texting, video recording, emailing, and accessing social media. The ban applies at all times when the vehicle is in operation, even if the vehicle is stopped at a stop sign or traffic light.

This law extends its reach to commercial motor vehicles and school bus drivers, who must comply with the same restrictions. They face added prohibition of reaching for a mobile device if it causes the driver to move from their seat. Drivers with a level 1 or 2 graduated license will have limitations on cell phone usage for communication purposes, unless they are reporting an emergency, accident, hazard, or their safety is at risk.

Are there any exceptions to the ban? While the law is strict, there are a few limited exceptions:

// Drivers can utilize a device’s GPS function as long as the information is not manually entered.

// All drivers, except those with level 1 or 2 graduated licenses, may use their devices in hands-free modes, provided they only tap, push, or swipe once to activate the hands-free setting.

// All drivers may use a device for emergency purposes, such as dialing 911.

// Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel are permitted to use their phones while performing their duties.

What are the penalties for violating the law?

To encourage compliance and deter distracted driving, penalties are in place for violators. First-time offenders will face a civil infraction, which carries a $100 fine and/or 16 hours of community service. Additionally, one point will be added to their driving record. Penalties escalate for subsequent violations, and third-time offenders may be required to complete a basic driver improvement course. Commercial motor vehicle and school bus drivers face more severe fines and community service obligations. This infraction will be categorized as a “serious traffic violation” for these drivers. If a driver accumulates two serious traffic violations within a three-year period, their license will be suspended for 60 days. Three violations within the same period will result in an additional 120-day suspension.

Michigan’s new law banning the use of mobile devices while driving reflects the state’s dedication to combating distracted driving, fostering safer roads, and safeguarding the lives of drivers and pedestrians.

If you have questions, reach out to your trusted OVD advisor!