New Law: Phones To Be Used Hands-Free Only While Driving In Minnesota

Statewide Minnesota — If your travels take you into Minnesota, there’s something you should know as a driver of a vehicle in that state.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, holding a phone while driving will soon be against the law. The hands-free bill was signed by Governor Tim Walz on April 12, 2019, and becomes law on August 1, 2019.

Under the new law, a driver will be able to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone. Troopers remind us that hands-free is not necessarily distraction-free.

The new law will make it illegal to hold your phone in your hand. Also, a driver may not use their phone at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone. You may use it, however, for GPS navigation.

There are a few exceptions, and they all involve emergencies or emergency vehicles. Hand-held phone use is allowed if you are trying to obtain emergency assistance, if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or if you are in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.

The Patrol suggests several ways of going hands-free. Their first idea is just not to use your phone at all while driving. Otherwise, a single earphone can be used. You can also pair your phone to your car radio or use the car’s AUX jack. You can even use a cassette adapter if you have an older car, or just buy a holder to clip your phone to the dash. You could also use a Bluetooth speaker.

Again, the main point is you can only use your phone by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone — and this starts in Minnesota on August 1st.

If you are under 18, it remains against Minnesota law to use your phone at all while driving.