Michigan’s distracted driving laws make it illegal to use a hand-held cell phone or mobile electronic device to text, talk on the phone, watch videos or go on social media while you’re driving. Penalties include fines, community service, and points on your license. The law includes a “hands-free” exception.
These laws are new to Michigan. They were approved by the Governor on June 7, 2023. And they take effect on June 30, 2023.
Previously, Michigan law only prohibited drivers from using a hand-held cell phone to text while driving.
Now, the new law extends the hand-held phone/device prohibition to apply to: (1) “Sending or receiving a telephone call”; (2) “Viewing, recording, or transmitting a video”; and (3) “Accessing, reading, or posting to a social networking site.” (MCL 257.602b(13)
The new law also increases the penalties for distracted driving with fines up to $250, up to 24 hours of community service, and points on a person’s driving record as well as driving school for drivers who repeatedly drive while distracted.
What are the Michigan distracted driving laws?
The Michigan distracted driving laws prohibit drivers from using a hand-held cell phone or mobile electronic device to: (1) talk on the phone; (2) text; (3) watch or record videos; and (4) post to and engage on social media. (MCL 257.602b(1), (12)(a) and (13))
Specifically, the laws make it illegal for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone or mobile electronic device to engage in any of the following four activities while they are driving:
- Sending or receiving a telephone call.
- Sending, receiving, or reading a text message.
- Viewing, recording, or transmitting a video.
- Accessing, reading, or posting to a social networking site. (MCL 257.602b(13)
Is there a hands-free exception to these Michigan laws?
Yes. The hands-free exception allows drivers to use their phone or mobile electronic device while driving so long as the phone or device is: (1) being used in “hands-free” or “voice-operated” mode; or (2) is “placed in a mount.” (MCL 257.602b(3)(d) and (f))
Can I watch videos or go on social media if I use my phone in “hands-free” mode?
Unfortunately, because of the way the Michigan laws are written, it appears drivers are not prohibited from using their phones or devices to watch videos or go on social media while they’re driving so long as the devices are in “hands-free” or “voice-operated” mode or are “placed in a mount.”
What is the distracted driving law?
The distracted driving law in Michigan makes it illegal for drivers to use a hand-held cell phone or mobile electronic device to text, talk on the phone, watch videos or go on social media while driving. But it is not illegal if the phone or device is used in hands-free or voice operated mode or placed in a mount.
What are the penalties for violating Michigan’s distracted driving laws?
The penalties for violation of Michigan’s distracted driving laws may include: (1) a fine of $100 to $250; (2) 16 to 24 hours of community service; (3) repeat offenders get points on the driving records of repeat offenders; and (4) driving school for 3 or more distracted-driving violations in a 3-year period.
Here are more details about the penalties under the Michigan distracted driving laws:
- A $100 fine for a 1st violation and/or 16 hours of community service. (MCL 257.602b(4)(a))
- A $250 fine for a 2nd or subsequent violation and/or 24 hours of community service. (MCL 257.602b(4)(b))
- Drivers with 3 or more violations within a 3-year period must complete a “basic driver improvement course.” (MCL 257.602b(8))
- 1 point on a person’s driving record for a 2nd violation of MCL 257.602b. (MCL 257.320a(1)(y))
- 2 points on a person’s driving record for a 3rd or subsequent violation of MCL 257.602b. (MCL 257.320a(1)(x))
Unfortunately, these “penalties” are still too lenient considering the dangers that distracted driving subjects all drivers to.
Not only are the crash risks for distracted drivers higher than for non-distracted drivers, but the science shows that distracted drivers can be more dangerous and a bigger threat to people on the road than drunk drivers.
What are the dangers of distracted driving?
The underlying science about the dangers of distracted driving is both clear and unrefuted:
- “Text messaging made the risk of crash or near-crash event 23.2 times as high as non-distracted driving,” according to a 2009 study from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.
- The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that dialing a handheld mobile phone while driving made the driver “12 times more likely to crash.”
- The AAA-Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that: (1) drivers’ overall crash risk “nearly doubled” when they were “engaging in all forms of visual-manual mobile phone tasks”; and (2) “visual-manual mobile phone interaction” while driving makes drivers three times more likely to be involved in a “road departure crash” and more than seven times more likely to cause a rear-end collision.
What are the distracted driving laws for teenagers in Michigan?
Teen drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 graduated license are prohibited from talking on a cell phone while driving – regardless of whether they’re using their phone in “hands-free” or “voice-operated” mode or whether the cell phone is placed in a mount. (MCL 257.602c(1)) This is known as Kelsey’s Law.
Kelsey’s Law, which makes it illegal for teen drivers to use a cell phone while driving, was passed to honor Kelsey Raffaele, 17, of Sault Ste. Marie, who tragically died in a cell phone-related automobile crash in 2010. In response to her family’s tragedy, Kelsey’s mother Bonnie Raffaele almost single-handedly worked to obtain the passage of the Michigan distracted driving law designed for teen drivers known as Kelsey’s Law in 2013.
Through Michigan Auto Law’s ongoing partnership with Bonnie to raise awareness about distractions facing young drivers, we offer the Kelsey’s Law Distracted Driving Scholarship every year which is open to Michigan high school seniors and juniors.
Additionally, under Michigan’s more general cellphone laws, teen drivers are prohibited from using a hand-held cell phone or mobile electronic device to text, watch videos and/or go on social media while they’re driving. (MCL 257.602b(1), (12)(a) and (13))
Is violating these Michigan laws considered a “primary” offense?
A violation of these laws can be “the primary or sole reason” for a police officer to stop and issue a citation to a driver breaking the law. (MCL 257.602b(9))
How many states have have these laws in place?
There are 48 states plus D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands that ban all drivers from texting while driving. 32 states plus D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while they’re driving.
What states have distracted driving laws?
There are 32 states – including Michigan – that ban drivers from using a hand-held cell phone while they’re driving.
The states that DO NOT have laws banning hand-held cell phone use by drivers are:
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
When did distracted driving become a law in Michigan?
Michigan enacted a ban on hand-held texting while driving in 2010. In 2013, Kelsey’s Law made it unlawful for teen drivers to talk on the cell phone while they’re driving. On June 30, 2023, the prohibition on drivers’ use of hand-held phone cell phones or mobile electronic devices takes effect.
Do distracted driving laws work in Michigan?
In Michigan, distracted driving laws do work as “driver distracted” crashes fell 17.7% from 20,115 in 2017 to 16,543 in 2021. Similarly, crashes caused by distractions from hand held devices that allow texting, typing and dialing (whether hand-held or hands-free) dropped 12.5% from 5,281 in 2017 to 4,621 in 2021.
Were you injured by a driver who violated Michigan’s distracted driving laws? Call Michigan Auto Law first
If you have suffered a personal injury in a car accident caused by someone who violated the Michigan distracted driving laws and you would like to speak with an experienced attorney, you can call us toll free anytime 24/7 at (855) 781-7747 for a free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys. We will answer your questions about your legal rights to pain and suffering compensation, economic damages, auto No-Fault insurance PIP benefits, and settlements in cases like yours. There is absolutely no cost or obligation. You can also get help from an experienced auto accident attorney by visiting our contact page or by using the chat feature on our website. Steven Gursten is the current President of the American Association for Justice Distracted Driving Litigation Group. He lectures and teaches auto accident attorneys throughout the nation on what distracted driving is and on how to obtain evidence of distracted driving in their own cases. Steve has spoken at national webinars on the subject of distracted driving evidence and discovery. Also, Steve speaks to high school students and parent groups throughout Michigan as part of Joel Feldman’s End Distracted Driving Campaign school and parent presentations.
(Sources: Governors Highway Safety Association, “Distracted Driving,” State Laws, June 2023; Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, Data Query Tool, 2021 and 2017, Filter – “Crash: Distracted Driver (2016+),” “Distracted Driver”; Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, Data Query Tool, 2021 and 2017, Filter – “Driver Distraction (2016+),” “Communication Device (text, type, dial),” “Hands-Free Device (talk),” “Hand-Held Device (talk),” “Electronic Device – Other”)