As of August 1, 2019, it will be illegal for drivers in Minnesota to use handheld devices while behind the wheel. Texting and driving has been prohibited across the state since 2008, but the new law imposes additional restrictions.
When the legislation goes into effect, motorists will no longer be able to use a phone unless it is in hands-free, voice-activated mode. That means everything from typing an address into a GPS app to scrolling through a list of podcasts has been banned.
There are, however, several exceptions to the hands-free restriction. For example, motorists may still use their phones to perform “one-touch” functions like adjusting the vehicle’s audio system or accepting a navigation prompt. This exception applies as long as the user does not have to hold the device or type/scroll on it in order to access the desired function.
Additionally, it will still be legal to use a handheld device while behind the wheel of a stationary, legally parked vehicle. Finally, emergency responders and law enforcement personnel are not banned from using handheld devices while behind the wheel.
What If I’m Hit by a Driver Who Was Violating the Hands-Fee Cellphone Law?
Although distracted driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, proving a motorist was using a cell phone calls for much different strategies than proving he or she was intoxicated. While victims of drunk driving accidents may be able to use chemical tests and arrest records to prove negligence, those who are hurt by distracted motorists must rely on other sources of evidence such as:
- Cell phone records;
- Recordings from surveillance cameras near the scene;
- Dash cam footage;
- Social media posts;
- The official police report;
- Eyewitness testimony;
- Photographs of the wreckage; and
- Statements from accident reconstruction experts.
Much of this evidence can be difficult to gather without applying legal pressure. For example, cell phone service providers are unlikely to hand over their records unless they absolutely have to. Likewise, the owner of any dash cam footage or surveillance recordings may not want to be involved in your case and therefore could decide to withhold the evidence. This is where a seasoned car accident lawyer can help.
An attorney who has experience handling distracted driving accident claims will know the kinds of evidence to gather and, if necessary, can file subpoenas to obtain it. Because valuable evidence may be time-sensitive—for example, dashcam footage might be overwritten—it’s wise to seek legal counsel at the earliest possible point in time so your lawyer can conduct an immediate investigation.
A founding partner with Bradshaw & Bryant, Mike Bryant has always fought to find justice for his clients—knowing that legal troubles, both personal injury and criminal, can be devastating for a family. Voted a Top 40 Personal Injury "Super Lawyer" multiple years, Mr. Bryant has also been voted one of the Top 100 Minnesota "Super Lawyers" four times.