In response to more than 60,000 distracted driving accidents from 2014 through 2018, Minnesota established a new hands-free law in 2019. The state now prohibits drivers from touching their phone or device, using the internet, and reading or sending texts or emails behind the wheel, including when they have stopped at a stop sign or red light.
Understand the Minnesota distracted driving laws to avoid a ticket and lower the risk for an auto accident.
Permitted and prohibited actions
Drivers can use navigation apps, stream podcasts or playlists, send texts and emails, or make phone calls on smartphones, smartwatches and other mobile devices only when using voice commands. The following actions will result in a ticket:
- Typing on the phone
- Scrolling through apps and social media feeds
- Viewing videos and photos
- Streaming live video
- Playing games
However, motorists may use their vehicle’s in-screen system, dedicated GPS systems, and two-way or CB radios legally while driving.
Exceptions to the law
The hands-free provisions do not apply to:
- Authorized emergency responders using telecommunications within official duties
- Anyone calling for help in an emergency situation
Drivers who fail to abide by these rules can receive a $120 ticket for the first offense and a $300 ticket for subsequent offenses. Avoiding devices and other distractions helps protect you and others on the road from serious auto accident injuries. In fact, the National Safety Council reported an average 15% decrease in traffic fatalities in the majority of states with hands-free laws in effect. A motorist who causes a fatal collision while texting and driving may receive a charge of felony vehicular homicide.
Minnesota recommends that drivers place their devices in the glove box, trunk or otherwise out of reach while behind the wheel. The state also reminds drivers to avoid other distracting actions, such as drinking, eating and adjusting mirrors and lights. Parents should teach children the importance of good car behavior.