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Auto Accident 1.09.2022

Michigan’s Cell Phone Texting Laws

Cell phone texting is unlawful in Michigan while driving a car. Police can pull you over for having a handheld device in your hand. Just like being pulled over for speeding, not wearing your seatbelt, and disobeying posted traffic signs, which are some of the most common causes of police traffic stops. As technology becomes more and more abundant, a growing cause for stopping cell phone use behind the wheel has arisen across the country due to the alarming growth in distracted driving accidents.

However, Michigan does not ban the use of handsfree mobile devices while driving a vehicle. In addition, cities and townships are beginning to address the distracted driving problem by enacting local ordinances discouraging handheld cell phone use. What you need to know about state laws and local ordinances addressing cell phone use while driving.

Driving while using a Cell Phone Statistics

According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, research has shown that message texting increases the risk of a crash or near crash by 23.2 times. The same study found that dialing a hand-held cell phone with your finger while operating a vehicle caused the driver to become 12 times more likely to crash. These statistics make crystal clear why prohibiting the use of a hand-held phone while driving is good public policy. However, as the use of consumer hand held technology continues to grow the legislature is expected to take more steps limit the use of hand held devices while driving in Michigan.

Is it Illegal to Use a Mobile Cellphone While Driving in Michigan?

Yes, use of a handheld cell phone while driving is illegal. However, there is no hands-free law in Michigan prohibiting voice command on cellphone while driving. Michigan is considering additional legislation to address different forms of distracted driving accidents.

Michigan Law Distracted Driving FAQs.

Can I Text on handheld device While Driving?

Michigan statute, MCLA 257.602b(1) and (2), prohibit all drivers, regardless of age, from texting on a hand held device while driving. The law speaks to the vast majority of drivers, only prohibiting mobile device use as follows:

“….a person shall not read, manually type, or send a text message on a wireless 2-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in the person’s lap, including a wireless telephone used in cellular telephone service or personal communication service, while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street in this state”.(“Michigan Legislature - Section 257.602b”)

Michigan law imposes financial penalties for violating this texting law including civil infractions and expensive fines that can increase with each subsequent offense. Note, you can use Apple CarPlay to text using voice command only. The law does not prohibit the devices fixed on your dashboard or using your steering wheel commands to activate voice commands.  

Can I Make Calls While Driving?

Yes, you can use Apple CarPlay or voice command to make calls while driving. The law currently Michigan law only prohibits all drivers from texting on a hand-held phone while driving. The existing law does not prevent licensed drivers from talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving, as long as the phone is not in your hand. However, Kelsey’s law is very strict for teenagers with a level one or two graduated license. This law prohibits teens from using a cell phone while driving, in any manner, which includes making or answering calls.

Can I Use CarPlay voice command Hands-Free Technology to Text or Make Calls While Driving?

Yes, at the moment Michigan law does not prohibit hands-free technology while driving. Michigan’s current anti-texting law only prohibits any hand held devices in a person’s hand or lap. Importantly, this law leaves out any mention of hands-free, voice command, or in vehicle mounted devices inside the vehicle. Kelsey’s Law is obscure because the prohibition against teen texting or making calls while driving does not address whether the teenage driver is allowed to use hands-free technology. However, Kelsey’s Law does carve out an exception for teens using a “voice-operated system integrated into the motor vehicle” such as CarPlay or its equivalent.  

Distracted Driving Laws in Michigan under consideration

The confusion about the use of hands-free technology inside your vehicle has prompted lawmakers to introduce bills that would expand on existing Michigan mobile device laws. Currently distracted driving pending legislation includes:

  • House Bill 4277 (2021): proposes more severe restrictions thorough limitations on mobile device use behind the wheel. For example, the proposed Bill states that recording or viewing videos, wearing two headphones, and accessing social media accounts while driving is illegal, regardless of device type, and would allow for the enforcement of penalties for those actions. The legislation prohibits is considering a few exceptions to this rule. The exceptions under consideration for the proposed law include:
    • Calling 911
    • Using a GPS device while typing in the location is not allowed
    • Reading or entering a phone number to make a phone call
    • Using voice-activated or hands-free software to make a call
    • First responders do not have limitations imposed by these rules while on duty.
    • The penalties under consideration are also harsher.

Municipal Distracted Driving Ordinances Adopted

Michigan law currently prohibits municipalities from enacting conflicting local ordinances about cell phone texting use. However, cities have the ability to create their own local ordinances, as long as the local ordinances do not conflict with the Michigan statute. In the City of Battle Creek, for example, a local ordinance adopted prohibits the use of hand-held phone while driving, which includes scrolling, typing, and speaking. The law is only in applicable within the boundaries of Battle Creek. The City of Battle Creek has posted signs at City boundaries to notify drivers when entering the city. Many other Cities are also enacting their own stricter distracted driving laws. The Detroit and City of Troy have also passed local ordinances that supplement existing state law. As more Michigan cities and townships begin to take distracted driving seriously, given the growing number distracted driving accidents, it is important to pay attention to the changing law and the posted signs prohibiting the use of hand-held phones within certain city limits.

Dangers of Distracted Driving

At this time Michigan law allows licensed drivers to make calls while driving and proposed laws may allow a CarPlay voice command exception for texting, it is still important to appreciate the fact that distracted driving is extremely dangerous. Even though your use of a cellphone while driving may not be illegal under state or local law (depending on your age and location), distracted driving could still get be harmful in the event of an accident. In fact, a driver’s distraction using even voice command to talk on a cell phone can be considered a negligent act that can hold the driver liable for damages caused in an accident. Therefore, the bottom line is that it’s never safe to drive distracted. Use common sense while driving for your own safety, your passenger’s well-being, and other drivers on the road, no call or text or cell phone conversation is worth the risk.

Need A Distracted Driving Lawyers? Call 866-HIRE-JOE

If you or a loved has been injured in a Michigan distracted driving accident, call 248-352-2110 or 866-HIRE-JOE to speak to the experienced distracted driving lawyers at The Joseph Dedvukaj Firm, P.C., who have helped families throughout Michigan to recover from catastrophic injury car, bus, truck, motorcycle, and pedestrian accidents. We believe the rest of your life depends on the compassionate lawyer you hire. Give us a call today for a 100% free consultation and our no fee guarantee unless we win for you.

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