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New hands-free law now in effect

A new state law that allows a driver to use their cell phone only with voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone became law Aug. 1.

Here's a summary of the changes under the new law, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety:

Drivers may not:

  • Hold their phones in their hand.
  • Use their phones at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.

Divers may use their phones to:

  • Make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.
  • Obtain emergency assistance, if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.
  • Use GPS and other systems that can only be used for navigation as they are exempt from the hands-free law. In-car screens and systems are also exempt. In both cases, most of these systems lock when the vehicle is moving.

The new law will improve safety on our roadways by reducing the number of traffic accidents that are caused by distracted driving. It also will be easier to enforce because drivers can no longer hold the phone in their hand.

To learn more about the hands-free law, including information on how to go hands-free, visit the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website.