Can you drive without touching your phone? New Michigan law makes that illegal

Posted at 8:08 PM, Jun 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-07 20:10:03-04

TROY, Mich. (WXYZ) — New, stricter distracted driving laws are going into effect on June 30 after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed new legislation Wednesday morning in Plymouth.

The package of distracted driving prevention legislation makes it illegal to drive while holding or using a cellphone at all. This even applies to when drivers are at red lights, however, it does not apply to hands-free Bluetooth devices.

7 Action News asked Michigan drivers what they think of the new laws and the reactions were mixed.

"Actually, that’s great because there’s so many accidents, or just negligence on the road. So I’m down for it 100%," Detroit driver Tangina Arnett said.

Her friends Akayla Taggart and Sherias Taggart responded that they believe it will be a difficult habit for a lot of drivers to break.

"But it’s like every time you turn to the right, turn to the left, you see a cellphone," one friend said. "I think we can do hands-free."

Meanwhile 18-year-old Michigan driver Chloe Smith told us, "I don’t think it’s realistic at all. I text people during red lights all the time, so I would not obey that law probably."

A first-time violation will result in a $100 fine, 16 hours of community service or both.

While the so-called hands-free driving laws are new to most Michiganders, they've been in effect in Troy for a decade.

Troy Police Department Sgt. Jason Clark told us, "It’s about time," the rest of Michigan adopted this.

Troy police began enforcing hands-free driving ordinances back in 2011 when Clark says they saw the way phones were distracting drivers outside of just texting.

When asked if they've had any pushback, he said, "Yes, there has been some pushback. Our ordinance actually reads that there is no hand-held physical manipulation of any hand-held device."

According to Clark, restricting phone use has been a great help in cutting down on distracted driving in Troy, so he's encouraged to see the country catching on.

Michigan is now the 26th state to require hands-free use of cellphones.

In Wednesday's press conference Whitmer cited that the laws will reduce distracted driving crashes, which are responsible for thousands of crashes and multiple death in Michigan every year.

She said the goal is zero traffic deaths in Michigan by 2050.

"We really have to re-teach ourselves to be out there driving with the phone away," Clark said.