Minnesota's Cell Phone and Texting While Driving Law and Penalties

Read about Minnesota’s distracted driving laws and the penalties for a violation.

In Minnesota, all motorists are prohibited from texting while driving. This prohibition includes accessing the Internet or other data on wireless devices. Minnesota's distracted driving law also restricts cell phone use while operating a vehicle.

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 per year.

Minnesota's Distracted Driving Law

Minnesota's distracted driving law basically has two parts: one that applies to cell phone use and another that applies to other electronic device use. (Minn. Stat. Ann. § 169.475.)

Talking on a Phone While Driving in Minnesota

Minnesota's cell phone law prohibits all motorists from using a cell phone while driving unless in voice-activated or hands-free mode. The law specifically makes it illegal to hold a phone or other wireless communication device with one or both hands.

Minnesota also has more specific laws that ban school bus drivers from personal cell phone use and motorists under age 18 from all cell phone use (whether handheld or hands-free).

Texting and Using Wireless Devices While Driving in Minnesota

All drivers are prohibited from texting while driving, which includes accessing the Internet or other data on a device. This prohibition applies when the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic (for example, sitting at a stoplight). However, the ban doesn't restrict using a device solely in a voice-activated or other hands-free mode.

Exceptions to Minnesota's Distracted Driving Laws

Minnesota's distracted driving laws don't apply to emergency vehicle personnel or when a driver uses a device to seek emergency assistance.

Penalties for Distracted Driving Tickets in Minnesota

The penalties for distracted driving tickets depend on the driver's history and whether the driver is operating a school bus or under the age of 18.

Standard Fines for Texting and Cell Phone Tickets in Minnesota

Cell phone and texting violations are petty misdemeanors. A first violation results in a $50 base fine (around $135 with surcharges). The base fine is increased to $275 for subsequent violations (about $360 with surcharges included).

Keep in mind that even when motorists are allowed to use a cell phone, it's still a misdemeanor to drive carelessly in disregard for others' safety.

Penalties for Underage Distracted Driving in Minnesota

For motorists under the age of 18, a cell phone violation is a petty misdemeanor. The base fine is $50 but, with the added surcharges, the total cost of the ticket is closer to $135. Two or more violations can also delay the issuance of a full driver's license. (Read about Minnesota's graduated license system for teen drivers.)

Penalties for School Bus Distracted Driving in Minnesota

For school bus drivers, a cell phone violation is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 in fines. And a conviction results in the immediate revocation of the driver's privileges to drive a school bus.

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