Distracted driving continues to be a significant concern on our roads, posing risks to drivers, passengers, and pedestrians alike. To address this issue, Michigan is taking a proactive approach by implementing a new distracted driving law, which will come into effect on June 30, 2023. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of the law, including the banned activities, exceptions, and penalties, to help you understand its implications and ensure safer driving for all.
Beginning June 30, 2023, Michigan drivers will be prohibited from using or even holding a mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. This ban encompasses various activities that divert a driver’s attention away from the road. It includes sending or receiving texts, recording videos, and accessing social media platforms. Importantly, this restriction applies even when the vehicle is stationary at a stop sign or traffic light, emphasizing the significance of undivided attention at all times.
Commercial motor vehicle and school bus drivers are subject to the same regulations. Additionally, these drivers are prohibited from reaching for a mobile electronic device if it would cause them to move out of their seat. Furthermore, drivers with a level 1 or 2 graduated license are restricted from using a cell phone for communication unless they are reporting emergencies, accidents, hazards, or facing imminent safety risks.
While the new law seeks to minimize distractions, it also acknowledges the importance of certain functions that can enhance driver safety and emergency response. Here are the exceptions to the ban on cell phone use while driving:
- GPS Function: Drivers are allowed to use a device’s GPS function, provided the information is not entered manually. This exception aims to assist drivers in navigating their routes while ensuring minimal distraction.
- Hands-Free Modes: All drivers, except those with a level 1 or 2 graduated license, may utilize hands-free modes on their devices. However, it is crucial to note that interaction with the device should be limited to a single tap, push, or swipe to activate the hands-free setting. This provision aims to strike a balance between enabling essential communication and reducing distractions.
- Emergency Purposes: Drivers of all categories may use a mobile electronic device for emergency purposes, such as calling 911. This exception ensures that individuals can promptly report accidents, hazards, or other critical situations.
- Exemption for Emergency Personnel: Law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other emergency personnel are permitted to use their phones while performing their duties. This allowance acknowledges the necessity for immediate communication and coordination during emergency situations.
What are the Penalties?
To deter distracted driving effectively, the new Michigan law introduces penalties for offenders. Let’s take a closer look at the consequences for violating the law:
- First-Time Offenders: For those caught using a mobile electronic device while driving for the first time, a civil infraction will be issued. This infraction carries a $100 fine and/or 16 hours of community service. Additionally, one point will be added to the offender’s driving record, serving as a reminder of the importance of safe driving practices.
- Subsequent Violations: Repeat offenders will face increasingly severe penalties. The fines and community service requirements will be escalated for second and third-time violations. Furthermore, individuals who commit a third offense may be required to complete a basic driver improvement course. These measures aim to encourage repeat offenders to reassess their behaviors and prioritize road safety.
- Commercial Motor Vehicle and School Bus Drivers: Given the increased responsibility associated with operating commercial motor vehicles and school buses, the penalties for distracted driving are more stringent for these drivers. They will face higher fines and longer community service requirements than regular drivers. Moreover, a distracted driving infraction will be categorized as a “serious traffic violation” for commercial motor vehicle and school bus drivers.
- Suspension of License: Accumulating serious traffic violations can result in the suspension of a driver’s license. If a driver receives two serious traffic violations within a three-year period, their license will be suspended for 60 days. Furthermore, if an individual commits three serious traffic violations within the same timeframe, they will face an additional 120-day suspension. This measure underscores the importance of adhering to safe driving practices consistently.
Michigan’s new distracted driving law, effective from June 30, 2023, aims to curb dangerous behaviors that contribute to accidents on our roads. By banning the use of mobile electronic devices while driving, with specific exceptions for critical functions and emergency situations, the state is prioritizing safety and promoting responsible driving habits. As responsible drivers, it is our duty to familiarize ourselves with these regulations and ensure that we actively contribute to safer roadways. Together, we can create a culture of focused and attentive driving, reducing accidents and protecting lives.