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S.F. No. 75 - Improper Cell Phone Use While Driving (First Engrossment-As Amended by the A-9 Amendment)
Author: Senator David J. Osmek
Prepared By: Kenneth P. Backhus, Senate Counsel (651/296-4396)
Alexis C. Stangl, Senate Counsel (651/296-4397)
Date: March 18, 2019


Section 1 defines “voice-activated” or “hands-free mode” for purposes of section 2.

Section 2 increases the penalty for using a wireless communications device to compose, read, or send electronic messages while driving from a petty misdemeanor to a misdemeanor for a third or subsequent offense. Requires a mandatory $150 fine for a first offense (current law is $50), a $300 fine for a second offense (current law is $275), and a $500 fine for a third or subsequent offense (but only if the three offenses are within ten years of each other) (current law is $275 regardless of the time period). (A $75 surcharge is added to the fine under current law and will continue to be added under the bill.) Also provides that a third or subsequent offense within ten years cannot be a payable offense (i.e., requires a court appearance) and will result in a 30-day driver’s license suspension.

Section 3 requires that, by January 1, 2020, driver education programs include instruction on distracted driving.

Section 4 requires the Commissioner of Public Safety to include a section on distracted driving in each edition of the driver’s manual. This section is effective January 1, 2020.

Section 5 makes a person whose driver’s license was suspended under section 2 immediately eligible for a limited license under Minnesota Statutes, section 171.30.

Sections 6 to 12 amend the criminal vehicular operation crimes to add causing harm to another as a result of the negligent operation of a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device in any manner other than in hands-free mode. Defines “wireless communications device” and “hands-free mode.” The penalties range from a gross misdemeanor to a ten-year felony depending on the harm caused.

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