Hands free law going into effect in August

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SAINT PAUL, MN Minnesota state leaders and law enforcement throughout the state are preparing to enforce the hands free while driving law effective August 1. The bill became law in April with Governor Tim Walz’s signature. Support was shown in Saint Paul by legislators, law enforcement, and families that lost loved ones because of distracted driving.

In Minnesota alone, more than 60,000 crashes were distracted driving related from 2014 to 2018, and a staggering number of citations have been handed out over the past five years from Minnesota courts for violating the state's texting while driving law.

"These are all things we have seen distracted driving play a role in,” says state trooper Lieutenant Gordon Shank. “It's one of the four factors in serious and fatal crashes, [and] it's one of the top four in our state."

The first time offense is $50 and a second time offense if $275. These citations also do not include court fees, so you will pay hundreds of dollars. There are a few exceptions to the law, but the circumstances involve brief contact with your phone, or it is required in a life threatening emergency.

"You can touch your phone once at a time, so if you want to shuffle to the next podcast or something you can do that,” Minnesota representative Joe Schomacker said. “As far as texting someone back, or dialing in a phone number, that's a ticket-able offense after August 1."

Advocates say the main purpose is to save lives, and encourage you to plan ahead before you fire up the ignition.