What to Know About Michigan's New Distracted Driving Law | Scott Goodwin Law

What to Know About Michigan’s New Distracted Driving Law

by / Wednesday, 12 July 2023 / Published in Michigan Law
A man using his cell phone while driving a car.

Traffic fatalities are a major problem in Michigan. Even when people were driving less because of the pandemic, the number of fatal traffic accidents in the state was alarmingly high – and it’s remained high ever since. Bridge Michigan reports that the number of fatal accidents in the Metro Detroit area in 2022 was 25% higher than it was in 2019. One reason for this has been an increase in risky driving behaviors, such as speeding, driving under the influence, not wearing a seat belt, and distracted driving. 

Michigan lawmakers have been working on ways to address this problem and make the roads safer, one of which being a new law intended to address distracted driving, which went into effect on June 30, 2023.

Michigan Distracted Driving Laws

In simple terms, Michigan’s new distracted driving law makes it illegal for drivers to manually use a cell phone while operating a vehicle. This means that drivers cannot use their hands, arms, or shoulders to hold a phone when they’re behind the wheel – even if they’re stopped at a red light or at a stop sign. Using a cell phone while the car is legally parked is allowed, though. Cell phones can be mounted to a dashboard or connected to an in-vehicle system, but even then, you cannot use your hands to operate your phone beyond making a single touch on the screen. 

There are a few exceptions to the new law.  If you need to use your phone to report a crime or emergency situation, that is allowed. Utility workers and emergency responders such as police officers and ambulance drivers are also allowed to use the phone while driving, but only if the phone is being used for work-related purposes. 

Michigan already had a law on the books prohibiting texting while driving, but that law went into effect at a time when cell phones were much less functional than they are today. The new distracted driving law is intended to prohibit a wider range of actions while driving, including: 

  • Making and answering telephone/video calls
  • Sending or reading emails and texts
  • Watching, recording, and sending videos
  • Entering information into a navigational system
  • Reading and making social media posts
  • Browsing the internet

Michigan Distracted Driving Violations

If someone is caught violating the law, the penalties are as follows:

  • First offense: $100 fine and/or 16 hours of community service
  • Second or later offense: $250 fine and/or 24 hours of community service
  • Three offenses within three years: completing a driving improvement course

However, if a person violates this law and causes a car accident while using their phone, fines are doubled. Fines are also higher for drivers of buses and other commercial vehicles. 

Contact a Michigan Car Accident Lawyer

Every year, distracted driving causes far too many car accidents that result in serious injuries or death. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident for any reason, don’t hesitate to contact a car accident lawyer for help. At Scott Goodwin Law, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in handling Michigan car accident injuries. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and find out how we can help you.

Image: Unsplash / Alexandre Boucher