Minnesota Text Messaging and Cellphone Laws

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. And, starting August 1, 2019, talking on a cellphone will also be banned for all drivers.

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.

Talking on a Cellphone

Minnesota’s cellphone law prohibits all motorist from using a cellphone while driving unless in voice-activated or hands-free mode. Minnesota also has more specific laws that ban school bus drivers from personal cellphone use and motorists under age 18 from all cellphone use (whether handheld or hands-free).

Penalties. Generally, a cellphone ticket is a petty misdemeanor. 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).

For school bus drivers, a cellphone 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.

For motorists under the age of 18, a cellphone 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.)

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

Texting and Other Use of Wireless Devices

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 modes.

Penalties. It’s a petty misdemeanor offense to text and drive. 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).

Exceptions

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

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