Michigan nears ban on handheld cell phone use while driving
- Michigan Senate votes 27-11 for hands-free cell phone driving bill
- New rules would take effect June 30
- Bills are nearing desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
LANSING — Michigan is getting closer to a ban on handheld cell phones while driving, after the Senate on Wednesday approved long-debated legislation to toughen the state’s distracted driving law.
The Democratic proposal, which passed in a series of 27-11 votes with some Republican support, would limit drivers to using hands-free settings, barring Michigan motorists from holding cell phones to view, record or transmit a video while driving,
Passenger vehicle drivers could be fined $100 for a first offense, $250 for subsequent violations and be required to complete a driver improvement course if they are cited three or more times within a three-year period.
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Drivers of commercial vehicles, including school buses, could be fined $200 to $500. Maximum fines would be doubled for violations that cause an accident.
The Senate amended the legislation on Wednesday to specify the newly proposed law would take effect on June 30, which would give the public and law enforcement officials a month and a half to prepare for the new rules.
That means the legislation must head back to the House for final approval before reaching Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The House approved earlier versions last week after dropping more punitive penalties that had divided majority Democrats.
The bills would make Michigan the 26th state to enact a hand-held cell phone ban for drivers. Ohio implemented a similar ban last month.
Michigan law already prohibits texting while driving, but safety advocates contend those rules are not strong enough to deter distracted driving, which caused 3,522 traffic deaths in the United States in 2021, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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