A summary of Michigan state law relating to cell phone use while driving in Michigan. Note that local cities and municipalities can (and some do) add stricter driver cell phone use regulations.
General Statewide Rule
Anyone driving a MOVING vehicle (other than a student driver (Levels 1 & 2), school bus driver, or commercial motor vehicle) on a Michigan highway or street is prohibited from reading, manually typing, or sending a text-message on a "wireless 2-way communication device". Here forth, such devices will be referred to as mobile phones. Understand, however, that this law would apply to any wireless 2-way communication device, with limited exceptions provided below.
Student Drivers, Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers, and School Bus Drivers
Michigan imposes tighter regulations on student drivers and drivers of commercial motor vehicles and school buses. All Level 1 and Level 2 student drivers are prohibited from initiating a call, answering a call, or listening to or engaging in verbal communication through a mobile phone. Anyone driving a commercial motor vehicle or school bus on a Michigan highway or street is prohibited from "using" a mobile device even when NOT MOVING, such as when stopped at a red light or in traffic. This rule does not apply to areas on the side of, or off, a highway where the vehicle is stopped and can safely remain stationary. This rule also does not apply to use of a CB radio.
Definition of Mobile Phone "Use" by Drivers of Commercial Motor Vehicles or School Buses
The Michigan Legislature defines "use" of a mobile phone by commercial motor vehicle and school bus drivers as holding a mobile phone with at least one hand, dialing or answering the phone by pressing more than one button, or deviating from a safe seating position to retrieve a mobile phone.
Exceptions to the Law
All drivers may use GPS or navigation systems that are attached to the vehicle. All drivers may legally use their mobile phones to report traffic accidents, medical emergencies, or serious road hazards; to report situations threatening the driver's personal safety; OR to report or prevent a criminal act against the driver or another person. Government law enforcement agents, firefighters, and emergency vehicle operators may legally use their mobile phones to carry out official duties. The law also carves out an exception for the operation and testing of automated (driverless!) vehicles.
The penalty for a first offense under this code is a civil infraction with a $100 fine. Second or subsequent offenses are also considered civil infractions and carry a $200 fine.
Practical Alternatives to Using Mobile Devices While Driving
First, abstaining from texting while driving is the best way to avoid a distracted driving accident or civil infraction under this law. Drivers should even consider turning off their phones prior to driving to avoid the temptation of reading and responding to incoming messages. Alternatively, drivers may pull off the road to safely park and legally access their mobile phones. Hands-free devices, such as a Bluetooth headset, are another alternative. Some newer cars even have built in hands-free Bluetooth or OnStar systems that connect with your mobile device and respond to voice commands. Voice-to-text applications that translate speech into text message may also be somewhat helpful, but only if the driver is able to use the app without visually or manually interacting with the mobile device.
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