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COOK COUNTY, MINNESOTA - August 4, 2019 (LSN) TThe hands-free bill becomes law on Aug. 1, 2019, requiring that drivers use their cell phones only with the aid of a hands-free device or by using a voice activated method while driving.
What does “hands-free” mean?
Voice activated and hands-free use are defined by Minnesota Statute 169.475 subd. 1c as, “attachment, accessory, wirelessly paired or tethered capability, application, wireless connection, or built-in feature of a wireless communications device or a motor vehicle that allows the person to use verbal or single touch commands to:”
Smart watches are also addressed in the law. Drivers can use them as a conventional watch to check time, but they cannot type, text or do the other things prohibited under the hands-free law.
Exceptions to the rule.
Exceptions to these requirements are built into the law, including that drivers may view or operate a global positioning system (GPS) or navigation system or listen to audio-based content (without typing or scrolling while in motion or part of traffic). A driver may also report a traffic accident, medical emergency or traffic hazard or act to prevent a crime from being committed without violating the law.
Finally, there are exceptions for emergency responders acting while performing official duties, and for citizen drivers who get an emergency message or are acting in the reasonable belief that the person’s life is in danger. Having a cell phone tucked into a headscarf or head wrap is not against the hands-free cell phone law, but the phone must be securely situated to remain hands-free and must not block the driver’s vision in any way.
No cell phone use allowed at all by teen drivers under 18 years old or by those driving with a driver’s permit or provisional driver’s license.
A new driver in these categories cannot make or answer calls while driving, even if using the phone “hands-free,” except in the following situations:
Penalties for violating the law increase dramatically after the first offense.
The first ticket is $50 plus court fees, and the second and later tickets are $275 plus court fees. Remember, hands-free is not necessarily distraction-free, and distracted driving is a separate driving offense that could include distractions other than using a phone.
The Minnesota Safety Council has assembled a tool kit to give you easy access to everything you need to understand the new law and educate yourself, your employees and their family members.
Should you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Cook County Attorney’s Office or the Minnesota State Patrol. Thank you for your commitment to making all Minnesotans safer through education on this new law.
Hands Free Law. (2019). Retrieved from https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/hands-free/Pages/default.aspx
Get Ready for Hands Free Minnesota. (2019).https://www.minnesotasafetycouncil.org/traffic/handsfree.cfm
County Connections is a column on timely topics and service information from your Cook County government. Cook County – Supporting Community Through Quality Public Service.
By: Cook County Sheriff’s Office in Collaboration with the Cook County Attorney’s Office
Cook County is at the tip of Minnesota's Arrowhead region in the remote northeastern part of the state, stretching from the shores of Lake Superior to the US-Canada border. By land it borders Ontario, Canada to the north, and Lake County, MN to the west. The highest point in Minnesota, Eagle Mountain is 2,301 feet and the highest lake, Total Area equals 3,339.72 sq miles
Cook County is home to three national protected areas:
Grand Portage National Monument
Superior National Forest
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
Cook County include:
Grand Marais Lutsen Mountains
Gunflint Trail Superior Hiking Trail
Fire Conditions Minnesota
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