Michigan House passes new distracted driving legislation

Bill would prohibit handheld talking, texting on phone while driving

Put the phone down. That’s the goal of bills that moved through the Michigan House Tuesday (Jan. 25). It makes driving and talking or texting handheld a crime with increasing fines. The bills would still allow you to use your phone as long as it is hands-free. The bills also prohibit driving and accessing, reading, or posting to a social media site. These bills are a bipartisan effort, but at least one lawmaker claimed it’s an infringement on one’s liberty.

LANSING, Mich – Put the phone down: That’s the goal of bills that moved through the Michigan House on Tuesday.

The bills would make driving and talking or texting on a phone a crime with increasing fines. Under the bills, drivers would still be allowed to use their phones while driving, as long as it is hands-free.

“They serve as a way to encourage better behavior from drivers on our roads and allow our law enforcement to keep those who are driving distracted in check,” said Rep. Mari Manoogian D-Bloomfield Hills.

The bills would also prohibit accessing, reading or posting to a social media site while driving. These bills are a bipartisan effort, but at least one lawmaker claimed that they infringe upon one’s liberty.

“To me, this feels like the big hand of government; they know best, they know what’s best for us,” said Rep. John Reilly (R-Oakland). “Am I alone? Do others feel this chipping away at the foundation of liberty in this country?”

Reilly argument was the minority viewpoint among lawmakers, who see driving as a privilege and not a right.

“I don’t feel we’re taking away personal liberties by telling people you can’t have your phone in your hand,” said Rep. Joe Bellino R-Monroe.

The main bill passed in the Michigan House 75-26.


About the Authors:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.