What Drivers Need to Know About Michigan's Expanded Driving Laws

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed three bills into law that expanded Michigan’s distracted driving laws to include handheld smartphone use. The laws go into effect on June 30, 2023.

The main bill in the package, House Bill 4250, prohibits drivers of passenger vehicles from holding or using a mobile electronic device while operating a vehicle. Using a mobile device would mean performing any task with the device. Examples of prohibited behavior include:

  • Sending or receiving a telephone call;
  • Sending, receiving, or reading a text message;
  • Viewing, recording, or transmitting a video; or
  • Accessing, reading, or posting to a social networking site.

How does this legislation change Michigan’s distracted driving law?

Michigan’s previous distracted driving law, which was enacted in 2010, applied to using a device to read, manually type, or send a text message (texting) while operating a vehicle that is moving on a highway or street.

The new law makes it illegal for drivers to hold an electronic device while operating a vehicle. This includes times when the vehicle is not moving temporarily because of traffic, road conditions, traffic lights, or stop signs. It does not apply to a vehicle that is legally parked. To “hold” a device means to physically support it with any part of the hands, arms, or shoulders.

When is it legally permissible to use an electronic device?

The prohibition does not apply to using a device for emergency purposes, including using a device to call or text 9-1-1 or make an emergency call to a law enforcement agency, fire department, or other provider.

In addition, drivers will be permitted to use a device while it is in voice-operated or hands-free mode (either factory-installed or a device that’s positioned in a mount) as long as they do not use their hands to operate it beyond using a single button press, tap, or swipe to activate or deactivate a function of the device.

What are the penalties?

A driver who is caught violating the law will pay a $100 fine or serve 16 hours of community service. A second violation will lead to a $250 fine or 24 hours of community service. A driver who faces a third violation must complete a basic driver improvement course. If the vehicle is involved in an accident, fines are doubled according to the law.

Help is available

The attorneys at O’Reilly Rancilio are available to answer your questions regarding changes to Michigan’s driving laws. To learn more, please visit our website or call 586-726-1000.

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