Michigan laws would ban most cell phone use while driving, boost penalties

Current law only prohibits texting

Person Holding Black Smartphone and Vehicle Steering Wheel. (Pexels)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan lawmakers are advancing a package of bills that would ban most cell phone use while driving, as well as increase penalties for doing so.

The bipartisan legislation (HB 4277, 4278 and 4279) was introduced in the Michigan House and is making its way through committees. It was referred for a second reading by the House Judiciary Committee in May.

Currently in Michigan, reading, typing or sending a text message on a cell phone is the only thing prohibited while driving. The new package of bills would make all use of a mobile device while driving illegal, including reading an email, typing a phone number, watching a video, checking your social media pages, or manually typing in an address into your map navigation app.

The laws would also ban use of other mobile or portable devices, like laptops or tablets.

Some exceptions would include use of mobile devices by law enforcement or emergency officers, needing to use a phone to alert 911 or police to an emergency, using your GPS (without manually typing). It wouldn’t include any voice-activated phone services built into your car system, just instances where you’re holding a phone while driving.

Related: Michigan traffic deaths up 10% in 2020; Bike deaths increase 81%

Currently, Michigan’s texting law carried a $100 fine for a first violation, and a $200 fine for a second violation. Under the new bills, these penalties would increase.

A first violation would result in a $100 civil fine or perform 16 hours of community service. A second offense would result in a $250 civil fine or perform 24 hours of community service, or both.

If the person was involved in an accident at the time of his or her violation of the section, these civil fine amounts would have to be doubled and an officer investigating the accident would have to note in a written accident report that the individual was using a mobile electronic device at the time of the accident, which could result in a suspension of the driver’s license.

Additionally, the driver’s license record would be assessed one point for a first and second violation, and two points for a third or subsequent violation.

Related: List of Michigan’s 10 most dangerous roads

According to the CDC, every day about 8 people in the United States are killed in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. In 2018, 25% of the distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes were young adults aged 20–29. In the U.S. in 2018, over 2,800 people were killed and an estimated 400,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver.

Read the legislative summary for the package of bills below:

About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital content and audience manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013. He enjoys suffering through Lions games on Sundays in the fall.