The Hands-Free Law

Here’s what you need to know about the new driving law.
Jesse Simon

The hands-free bill took effect on Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. Since it’s still so new, drivers may have questions about what is and isn’t allowed under the law and how to safely and legally use a phone while in the car. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions. Remember, just because your device is hands-free does not mean it’s distraction-free.

What isn't allowed under the Hands-Free Law?

The new law prohibits drivers from operating a phone in their hand while driving. This bans texting, dialing a phone number or handling a phone for any of these additional functions:

  • Video calling
  • Watching or streaming content
  • Gaming
  • Social media
  • Looking at photos
  • Using non-navigation apps
  • Reading, scrolling through or typing texts, messages, emails, etc.

What is allowed under the Hands-Free Law?

The law still allows drivers to use their cell phone to make calls, send messages, listen to music and podcasts, and utilize GPS functions, but only by voice command or single-touch, hands-free activation.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes. Hand-held phone use is allowed to obtain emergency assistance if there is an immediate threat to life and safety. People in authorized emergency vehicles performing official duties are also excused.

What happens if I break the Hands-Free Law?

The first offense is $50 plus court fees. The second offense jumps to $275 plus court fees.

Why does this bill matter?

According to the National HighwayTraffic Safety Administration data, 12 of the 15 states that have introduced a hands-free law have seen a 15percent decrease in traffic fatalities on average. It also makes it easier for law enforcement to see violations and take more effective action. Additionally, the law helps increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. 

Can drivers under 18 use a phone in hands-free mode?

The hands-free law does not change or override the Graduated Driver Licensing rules and laws. Drivers under18 years old may only use phones for GPS, music or podcasts, and must use one-touch activation and putaway the device before driving. Unless they are obtaining emergency assistance, minors may not make or take phone calls or texts, even from their parents or when stopped at a stoplight or stop sign.

How to go Hands-Free

  • Eliminate phone use. Avoid using your phone when driving. Turn it off and put it in the glove box, center console, or out of reach. You can also switch it to Do Not Disturb mode.
  • Use headphones. Use a single earbud or headset that has a microphone to talk/hear the phone. Remember, having two earphones in at the same time is illegal in Minnesota.
  • Connect to Bluetooth. If your car has the capability, pair your phone with your vehicle via Bluetooth. If not, you can buy Bluetooth speakers or earphones to connect to.
  • Plug into an aux system. Buy an auxiliary cable to connect your phone’s earphone jack to your vehicle's aux jack. If you have an older vehicle or phone, you may need to use a cassette player version or an adapter.
  • Use a phone holder and speakerphone. Buy a holder to clip your phone to the dashboard. From there, you can use voice or one-touch controls to activate the speaker function and talk on the phone hands-free.

For more FAQs and additional details about hands-free driving, visit