There are many questions regarding what is and isn’t allowed under the new law, how to safely use a phone while in the car, and what the penalties for non-compliance are. Below are answers to many frequently asked questions.
Remember, just because your device has to be hands-free does not mean it's distraction-free.
Information on the Hands-Free Law is also available in the following languages:
The new law allows drivers to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music and podcasts, and utilize GPS functions, but only by voice command or single-touch activation without holding the phone.
Your phone cannot be in your hand when you are driving. Additionally, a driver may not use their phone at any time for:
- Video calling
- Video streaming
- Social media
- Looking at video of photo on the phone
- Using non-navigation apps
- Reading, scrolling through or typing out texts, emails or messages, etc.
Holding a phone in your hand is only allowed if the driver is using the device:
- To obtain emergency assistance
- If there is an immediate threat to life and safety
- When in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.
Yes. GPS and other navigation systems can only be used for navigation are exempt from the hands-free law as long as it can be activated via voice command or through a single touch. In-car screens and systems are also exempt. In both cases, most of these systems lock when in the vehicle is in motion.
The hands-free law does not change or override the Graduated Driver’s License rules and laws. If you are under 18 years old, the only ways you can use your phone is for GPS, music or podcasts, but it still has to be one-touch and set before you begin driving. Unless you are obtaining emergency assistance you may not make or take phone calls or text, even if it is your parents or you are at a stoplight or stop sign.
Having a cell phone tucked into a headscarf or head wrap is not against the hands-free cell phone law. The phone must be securely situated to remain hands-free and must not block the driver’s vision in any way. What would be against the new law is if the driver removed the phone and held it in their hand while they were a part of traffic.
At no time may a driver hold the phone in their hand unless it’s to obtain emergency assistance, if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.
The new law does allow a driver 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.
While there are many possible distractions in moving vehicles from passengers and pets to other devices, eating, or daydreaming, this bill specifically addresses cell phone use because phones are distracting cognitively (mind off road), physically (hands off the wheel), and visually (eyes off the road) making it a triple threat. A driver is still expected to avoid other distractions and drive with due diligence and care under other Minnesota traffic laws, and can still be pulled over for other distractions, the ticket would just site a different law.
A first-time offense results in a $50 ticket plus the court fees.
The second-time offense results in a $275 ticket plus the court fees.
Yes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, in 12 of the 15 states that have introduced hands-free bills have seen a 15% decrease of traffic fatalities on average.
The law also makes it easier for law enforcement keep Minnesotans safe. Because drivers aren’t allowed to have their phones in their hand, it will be easier for law enforcement to see violations and take more effective action.
Additionally, there is a lot of education happening around this bill with the goal of making Minnesotans more informed of the dangers of driving distracted.
Don’t use your device
Whenever possible, avoid using your phone when driving. There are many ways to avoid using a phone while driving:
- Turn it off
- Put it in the glove box, trunk, backseat or anywhere that is out of reach
- Change it to do not disturb mode
This option is free and you will be surprised how many new sights you will see on your drive. A number of large, successful companies have adopted no-phone-use policies for their employees while driving on company time. After getting used to it, employees report being happier and at least as productive as when they used their phones in vehicles.
If you use a single earphone that has a microphone to talk/hear the phone, you are using the device in hands-free mode. Remember, having two earphones in at the same time is illegal in Minnesota, so only put one earbud in at a time.
If your car has the capability, pair your phone with your vehicle via Bluetooth. This option is free to use.
If your car does not have Bluetooth capabilities built in, you can buy Bluetooth headphones, speakers, or ear phones to connect to. There are many after-market choices, all of which let you go hands-free, and prices generally range from $10-50. You will need to remember to charge these devices though, so they are ready to be used.
You can check any local technology or phone service stores, Amazon, and Target for Bluetooth devices.
Use your vehicle’s AUX system
If your car is not Bluetooth enabled, you can buy an auxiliary cable to connect your phone’s earphone jack to your vehicle’s AUX jack. With these cables you can operate your phone by voice or single touch and listen through your car’s existing audio system. These cables are usually around $5.
If you have an older vehicle, you may need to get the cassette player version to use instead of the newer cable. The cassette adapters are usually around $15-30 depending on where you get them.
Depending on your phone and where you buy your cable, you may need an adapter for your phone as well.
You can check 5 Below, Target, local technology stores and Amazon for adapters and cables. Car care stores may also have these products.
Phone holders and speakerphone
Buy a holder to clip your phone to the dash. From there you can use voice activation or one-touch to use your phone. Clips range from simple and cheap to complicated and expensive. Make sure you purchase one that will securely hold your phone and properly attach to your vehicle.
Check online retail options such as Amazon, or your local car care store such as NAPA Auto Parts for phone holders and clips.
Informational Hand-Out Cards
Increase awareness about what is and isn't allowed under the new law.
AAA Minneapolis offers informational cards about the hands-free law to hand out at your organization or event.
Cards are 3.5x2" - perfect for storing in a wallet or business card holder.
Fill out the form below to request cards in sets of 100. We'll get in touch to confirm your pickup location and date.