Hands-Free Law Finally, Literally, Requires Hands-Free in Minnesota

One of the new laws that went into effect this summer, was a change to Minnesota’s Hands-Free Law. Previously, you could hold your phone in your hand in certain situations or tap your phone to initiate a call or GPS. Now, the new law, prohibits holding your phone with one or both hands at all, if your vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic.

This makes it a lot easier for police officers to enforce the law, because all they need to do is see a person holding their phone to initiate a traffic stop. They do not need to figure out what a person is doing on their phone any longer. The law does carve out the ability to use your phone lawfully while driving, but you primarily cannot be holding your phone.

The exceptions for a driver to use their phone written into the law include: voice activated phone calls – if not holding your phone; viewing or operating GPS – if not holding your phone or typing while the car is moving or a part of traffic; listening to audio – if not holding your phone; obtaining emergency assistance; you reasonably believe that a person’s life is in danger; and an authorized emergency vehicle while in the performance of official duties.

Bottom line: do not hold your phone while driving, unless you are calling 911 for a legitimate emergency. Cops are increasingly stopping vehicles when they see someone holding their phone, even if your driving conduct is otherwise perfect. While the infraction itself is generally not that big of a deal to most drivers, it is the hassle of what comes with being pulled over and what may come thereafter. The overwhelming majority of DWI and drug possession cases start with a traffic stop. Being able to successfully challenge that stop is what you and your defense lawyer want. That can lead to suppression of evidence, dismissals, and an overall great outcome for your case.

Phones are a tremendous distraction to drivers and impacts the safety of everyone on the road. The new hands-free law is finally, literally, hands-free. If you find yourself in a position where you are allegedly using your phone in an illegal way while driving or it leads to other charges, feel free to contact us for case review at no charge, contact us by phone or text at: 612-547-3199. You can also reach us by email at: ambroselegal@icloud.com.

Robert H. Ambrose is a criminal defense lawyer and DWI attorney in Minnesota. Super Lawyers named him Super Lawyer the past two years and a Rising Star the previous six years. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School. DWI Lawyer Woodbury MN, Criminal Defense Attorney Minneapolis MN, Criminal Appeals Attorney Minnesota.