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S.F. No. 75 - Modifications to Laws Regarding Cell Phone Use While Driving
 
Author: Senator David J. Osmek
 
Prepared By: Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
 
Date: January 22, 2019



 

This bill increases the penalties for using a wireless communications device to compose, read, or send electronic messages (Section 1). Wireless communications devices used to violate the law may be subject to forfeiture for the third or subsequent violation of improper use while driving (Sections 2, 11, and 12). Information on distracted driving must be included in driver education courses and in the driver’s manual (Sections 3, 4, and 13). If a driver uses a cell phone not in hands-free mode while operating a vehicle and causes death or harm, the driver is guilty of a crime (Sections 5-10).

Section 1.  Prohibition on use; penalty.  The penalties for using a wireless communications device to compose, read, or send electronic messages is increased from a petty misdemeanor to a misdemeanor.  A tiered fine structure is established with a first offense being a $150 fine; a second offense is a $300 fine; and a third or subsequent offense is a fine of $500. The Judicial Council is prohibited to adding a violation that is a third or subsequent offense to the statewide payables list.  This section is effective on August 1, 2019.

Sec. 2.  Forfeiture. For a third or subsequent violation of section 1, the wireless communications device is subject to forfeiture.  This section is effective August 1, 2019.

Sec. 3.  Driver education requirements.  By January 1, 2020, the commissioner of public safety must adopt rules requiring driver education programs to include instruction on distracted driving. This section is effective the day following final enactment.

Sec. 4.  Distracted driving. The commissioner must include a section on distracted driving in each edition of the driver’s manual. This section is effective January 1, 2020.

Sections 5 to 10. Various crimes.  Operating a motor vehicle while using cell phone or other electronic device, without using a hands-free setting is:

  • criminal vehicular homicide if the operator causes the death of a person that isn’t murder or manslaughter (Section 5);
  • criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm if the operator causes great bodily harm to another that isn’t attempted murder or assault (Section 6);
  • criminal vehicular operation causing substantial bodily harm if the operator causes substantial bodily harm to another (Section 7);
  • criminal vehicular operation resulting in bodily harm if the operator causes bodily harm to another (Section 8);
  • criminal vehicular operation resulting in death to an unborn child if the person causes the death of an unborn child (Section 9); or
  • criminal vehicular operation resulting in injury to an unborn child if the operator causes great bodily harm to an unborn child subsequently born alive (Section 10).

These sections are effective August 1, 2019.

References:

Minnesota Statutes, section 609.02 provides the following definitions that are relevant to this bill:

Subd. 7.  Bodily harm.  "Bodily harm" means physical pain or injury, illness, or any impairment of physical condition.

Subd. 7a. Substantial bodily harm. "Substantial bodily harm" means bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ, or which causes a fracture of any bodily member.

Subd. 8.  Great bodily harm. "Great bodily harm" means bodily injury which creates a high probability of death, or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or which causes a permanent or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ or other serious bodily harm.

 
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