Minnesota Text Messaging and Cell Phone Laws

Except for novice drivers, commercial vehicle drivers, and school bus drivers, there is no prohibition on cell phone use while driving in Minnesota. All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. According to Minnesota's Office of Traffic Safety, distracted or inattentive driving is a factor in one in four crashes in Minnesota, resulting in at least 70 deaths and 350 serious injuries. The OTS estimates these numbers are vastly underreported because of the difficulty in determining distraction as a crash factor.

Cell Phone Use

Handheld cell phones are banned for novice drivers in Minnesota - drivers under the age of 18 with learner’s permits or intermediate licenses – and for school bus drivers and drivers of commervial (CMV) vehicles. Otherwise, handheld cell phone use is not prohibited.

Texting Laws

All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving. The law prohibits sending an "electronic message" which is defined as “a self-contained piece of digital communication that is designed or intended to be transmitted between physical devices. An electronic message includes, but is not limited to, e-mail, a text message, an instant message, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or other data that uses a commonly recognized electronic communications protocol. An electronic message does not include voice or other data transmitted as a result of making a phone call, or data transmitted automatically by a wireless communications device without direct initiation by a person.”

The law prohibits using a wireless communications device to compose, read, or send an electronic message, when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. The law does not apply when the device is solely in a voice-activated or other hands-free mode or when used  for making a cellular phone call or for obtaining emergency assistance, or in an authorized emergency vehicle while in the performance of official duties.

Bus Drivers

All Minnesota school bus drivers are prohibited from using cell phones or texting while driving.

How is it Enforced?

A violation of Minnesota’s anti-texting law can cost up to $300 and applies to drivers of all ages. Minnesota’s novice cell phone and texting laws are considered “primary” laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting and issues a citation. 

Other Helpful Links

Follow the links below for additional information surrounding driving laws in Minnesota found on this website.

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