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Truckers face stiff penalties under new distracted driving law in Michigan starting next week

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A new distracted driving law goes into effect in Michigan next week — here’s what truck drivers need to know to avoid a costly fine and community service penalty.

Effective June 30, 2023, a new “hands-free” driving law will go into effect in Michigan, building upon existing state laws that forbid texting behind the wheel.

Drivers are not allowed to touch a phone or other device with their hands, arms, or shoulders under the new hands-free law.

Under the new law, holding or using an electronic device while driving for any of the following reasons is illegal:

  • Send or receive a telephone call.
  • Send, receive, or read a text message.
  • View, record, or transmit a video.
  • Access, read, or post to a social networking site. 

The new law also makes holding or using a phone behind the wheel a primary offense, so law enforcement can pull a driver over solely for distracted driving.

Commercial drivers and bus drivers who violate the new law face the following penalties, which are stiffer than those for passenger vehicle drivers:

  • First violation: $200 fine or 32 hours of community service, or both.
  • Second or subsequent violation: $500 fine or 48 hours of community service, or both.

If an at-fault crash occurred while a driver was holding a device, the driver would be subject to double the penalty.

Exceptions for the hands-free law are as follows:

  • Law enforcement, first responders, and other emergency workers would not be prohibited from using a cell phone while performing official duties.
  • The same exception goes for anyone calling or texting 911 to report an emergency or seek help.
  • Drivers will still be allowed to use their GPS, but only if it’s hands-free. Phones could be used as navigation systems so long as it is in a hands-free fashion, such as mounting it to the dashboard or using voice commands to control it.
  • Generally, using voice commands or hands-free modes to use mobile electronic devices is allowed.

Learn more about Michigan’s new distracted driving law here.

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