Driver cited for texting about new hands-free law on first day of enforcement

Law enforcement around Minnesota wasted no time issuing citations to drivers not adhering to the state’s hands-free driving law that went into effect Thursday morning.

Drivers on their morning commutes were subject to warnings, fines and citations as officers and deputies started cracking down on the state’s newest law.

In Eagan, police cited a driver who was texting about the hands-free law while the officer drove alongside her in the next lane. The woman also put her phone up to her ear to make a call before she was stopped.

Drivers caught violating the hands-free law are subject to a $50 fine.

Officers say it will take some getting used to for drivers, but they can’t undersell the law’s importance.

“You’re at stop lights, you’re going on the road, you see people swerving because they’re on their phones,” said Sgt. Michael Glassberg, of Hopkins Police in an interview earlier this month. “It’s an epidemic. Bottom line is once you’re in that car, and you’re in the roadway, you can’t be holding your phone.”

According to the Office of Traffic Safety from 2014 to 2018, distracted driving contributed to an average of 45 deaths and more than 200 life-changing injuries in Minnesota each year. If the law follows the pattern it has in other states, it could reduce traffic deaths by 15 percent.

Hands-free technology is available at stores around the state and drivers are taking full advantage.

For more information about the hands-free law, visit the Department of Public Safety’s web page.

Hands-free is not the only law now in effect statewide. The new “slowpoke” law, requiring slower drivers to stay out of the left lane and the state’s new indoor vaping ban are also in effect as of Aug. 1.