On June 30, 2023, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a new distracted driving bill into law. This law aims to reduce distracted driving not only for teen drivers but for anyone on the road. It does so by banning drivers from holding or supporting any phone or device with their arms, hands, or shoulders.
"I'm proud to sign today's legislation to reduce distracted driving in Michigan," stated Governor Whitmer. Her goal is to see traffic deaths reduced to zero by 2050. "Too many Michiganders have lost loved ones to distracted driving, and everyone should be safe on their way to school, home, or work."
What Does the Distracted Driving Law Entail?
The main premise of the law is that you aren't allowed to use or hold any sort of device while behind the wheel. This includes cell phones, GPS units, and even tablets.
If you want to have your device available to use for communication, navigation, or entertainment, you must mount it to your dashboard or connect it to your car's integrated system. You're only allowed to operate these devices with voice commands and not for things beyond a single touch.
What Does the Law Stop Me from Doing?
To make it clear, you can no longer do the following things on your phone while operating a motor vehicle.
You can't answer or make a phone or video call.
You can't read or send an email or text message.
You can't record, watch, or send a video.
You can't post on or scroll social media.
You can't use the internet.
You can't enter anything into a GPS or navigation app.
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are a couple of situations where you can use your phone when you aren't parked, but they're rare. The primary one is if you need to report an emergency by calling 9-1-1. You can also use your phone if you're a police officer, firefighter, EMT, or operate any other emergency vehicle whether you're paid or a volunteer.
How the New Law Affects Teens
Just in case you thought you could still send a quick text message to your friends while waiting at a red light or while stuck in traffic, you can't. The only time you can legally use your device is when you are in a parked vehicle. Michigan classifies the law as a primary offense, so a police officer can pull you over and ticket you if they spot you using your cell phone.
As a teen, you're still new to the road, so it's important to establish good habits now. Luckily, with a driver improvement course, you can learn all about distracted driving and how to avoid it. Our course teaches you the best ways to stay safe on the road — including putting your phone down — so you can avoid being penalized.
What Are the Penalties for Breaking This Law?
If you get caught breaking this new hands-free law, the punishment varies by how many times you get caught. The more you get caught, the worse the penalty gets.
First offense — $100 fine and/or 16 hours of community service.
Second or subsequent offenses — $250 fine and/or 24 hours of community service.
Three offenses in three years — You must complete a driver-improvement course.
If you are using or holding your cell phone and get into an accident or crash, the fine doubles.
Teens Can Stay Safe by Keeping Their Phone Down in Michigan
Since a lot of teens have rarely been without a cell phone in their hand, it may be hard to break old habits to comply with this new law. The best way to learn good habits is by taking a Michigan driver-improvement course at IDriveSafely.com. The course teaches you defensive driving techniques, the proper procedures, and the rules of the road in Michigan. You can complete the course in as little as a day and could even lower your insurance rates. Michigan Distracted Laws Are Changing. What Does This Mean for Teen Drivers?