Detroit Regional Chamber > Automotive & Mobility > MICHauto-Supported Distracted Driving Legislation Signed Into Law

MICHauto-Supported Distracted Driving Legislation Signed Into Law

June 8, 2023

MICHauto has long-supported legislation to prevent distracted driving and was in attendance as it was signed into law yesterday. Read more about the signing here and its impact in the article below.

Crain’s Detroit Business
June 7, 2023
David Eggert

Michigan is the 26th state with a hands-free cellphone driving law after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation on Wednesday.

The law updates a 2010 ban on texting while driving to include other uses of mobile devices.

Here is what to know about the effort to reduce crashes caused by distracted drivers, which Whitmer called for in her first State of the State speech in 2019:

When does the hands-free phone law take effect?

The law takes effect June 30.

What was the old law?

Under current law until June 30, it is illegal to use a wireless phone to read, type or send a text message while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street. A violation is a civil infraction. A first offense is a $100 fine. A subsequent offense is a $200 fine. There is an exception to report a crash, medical emergency, road hazard, crime or other safety risk.

What does the new law change?

Soon, it will be illegal to hold or use a mobile electronic device while operating a vehicle, including when stopped at a light or in a traffic jam. That includes sending or receiving a call or text message, viewing video or scrolling, searching or posting to social media.

Whitmer signed the bills in Plymouth Township, at a hockey rink named for Mitchel Kiefer. He was killed in 2016 by a distracted driver on Interstate 96 while Mitchel was driving to Michigan State University, where he was a freshman. The family started a foundation dedicated to ending distracted driving and has advocated for legislation in Michigan and other states.

“When you’re behind the wheel, please put your phones down and just drive,” Steve Kiefer, Mitchel’s father and a former General Motors executive, said at the signing event.

What are the exceptions?

The prohibition will not apply when:

  • Calling 911 or first responders.
  • Using a GPS or navigation feature as long as the information is not entered by hand.
  • Using the device in a voice-operated or hands-free mode. It will be permissible to use a single-button press, tap or swipe to activate or deactivate the device or to select a name or phone number. It also will be OK to use permanently installed user interfaces integrated into the vehicle.
  • Using the device if it is mounted and used in accordance with other exemptions.
  • Working as a first responder or utility worker responding to an emergency or testing or operating an automated driving system.

What are the penalties?

A first violation will bring a $100 fine, 16 hours of community service or both. A repeat violation will result in a $250 fine, 24 hours of community service or both. A point will be added to one’s driving record for a second violation, two points for a third or subsequent iolation. Someone who has three or more infractions within three years will have to compete a basic driver improvement course. Bus drivers and truckers will face higher penalties.

Can police pull you over for cellphone use?

Holding or using a cellphone while driving will be a “primary offense.” That means police will be able to pull over and ticket a driver solely for the offense.

What is the effect of distracted driving?

In 2021, 5.9% of crashes in Michigan, about 16,500, involved a distracted driver. Fifty-nine resulted in a fatality. Drivers under age 21 accounted for 6.7% of drivers but 18.1% of crashes attributed to distracted driving.

The sponsor of the main bill, Democratic Rep. Matt Koleszar of Plymouth, credited the family members of crash victims.

“In the face of tragedy, it is your advocacy that led us to this point,” he said. “This legislation will save lives.”