Is it Illegal to Talk on the Phone and Drive in Minnesota?

There are many potential distractions for drivers when they get behind the wheel. As technology becomes more and more of a regular part of our lives, our cell phones have become a major roadway hazard. Many people wonder if talking on the phone while driving is illegal in Minnesota. The law in this state does prohibit certain activities related to phones while driving, and the team at Knutson+Casey wants to discuss what is legal and what is not.

Distracted Driving Statistics

According to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, there were more than 79,000 total traffic accidents during the latest reporting year across the state. Out of these incidents, there were 27,877 total injuries and 381 total fatalities.

When we look more closely at the statistics from the DPS, we can see that distracted driving was cited as a contributing factor in 29 traffic fatalities and 3,927 traffic injuries across the state in 2018, which is the latest full year of statistics available. Data shows that more than 60,000 crashes from 2014 to 2018 were distracted driving-related.

As technology has become more and more integrated into our daily lives, we have seen that talking on the phone has become one of the main distractions for people driving their vehicles.

Minnesota’s “Hands-Free” Law

In response to rising traffic injuries and fatalities caused by talking on the phone while driving, Minnesota passed a “hands-free” bill that went into effect on August 1, 2019.

Under this law, drivers are allowed to use their phones to make calls, text, listen to music, or get directions only if they use voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone to do so.

Under this law, drivers are prohibited from holding their phone in their hands. The law also prohibits a driver from using their phone at any time for live streaming video or for video calling. Drivers are not allowed to play games, look at photos or videos stored on the phone, use non-navigation apps, or scroll through Internet websites.

Under this new law, smartwatches are also considered an electronic communications device, and therefore have the same restrictions in place as a cell phone

Those under the age of 18 with a driver’s permit or provisional driver’s license are not allowed to make or answer calls while driving (hand-held or hands-free).

Does the Law Have Any Exceptions?

The Minnesota hands-free law does allow drivers to hold their phones:

  • To obtain emergency assistance
  • If there is an immediate threat to life and safety
  • For those inside emergency vehicles while performing their official duties.

Injured by a Distracted Driver? Contact Knutson+Casey

If you or a loved one have been injured due to the careless or negligent actions of a distracted driver, contact the team at Knutson+Casey today. Our Mankato car accident lawyers will thoroughly investigate every aspect of the crash in order to determine liability and secure the compensation you deserve. This could include:

  • Compensation for any medical bills
  • Lost income or loss of future earnings
  • Pain and suffering damages
  • Loss of personal enjoyment damages
  • Possible punitive damages in cases of grossly negligent driving behavior

When you need a Minnesota distracted driving attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation online or by calling us at (507) 344-8888.