Provided by James A. Carolan, CWS®, CTFA | Sr. Estate Planning Attorney for EWM Legal Solutions
While this topic is not our usual estate planning discussion, it is something that all Michigan drivers must be aware of and comply with. It applies to those visiting Michigan on vacation or visiting family as well; it applies to anyone driving a car on Michigan roads.
Effective June 30, 2023, Michigan becomes the 26th state to have a law regarding hands-free driving on the books. MCL 257.602b was added to our Michigan Vehicle Code in May 2023 to reduce distracted driving crashes and fatalities. While texting and driving were already illegal, this law makes ALL cell phone usage, unless hands-free and voice command operated, illegal, with some limited exceptions.
Using any part of the “… hands, arms or shoulders…” is sufficient to meet the requirements of holding a cell phone or other electronic device. Keeping the device on your lap while using it is considered “holding” a cell phone. The prohibition applies if you are stopped in traffic, stopped by a stoplight or other traffic control device, or any other momentary delay. The act does not apply if you move off the roadway and stop the vehicle where it is safe to remain stationary.
The law states it is illegal to hold and use mobile-electronic devices to do any task, including, but not limited to, the following list:
• Send or receive a phone call.
• Send, receive, or read a text message.
• View, record, or transmit a video; or
• Access, read, or post to any social networking site.
If a police officer sees you driving while holding or using a cell phone, you can be pulled over and ticketed. Holding or using a cell phone while driving is a “primary offense” under the law, and a stop is justified. The law states that police are not allowed to search a driver solely for this violation.
Exceptions to the law include:
• Law enforcement, first responders, and other emergency workers while performing official duties.
• Anyone who is calling 911 or texting 911 to report an emergency or seek help.
• Using GPS, but only if done hands-free. A phone as a navigation system can be mounted in a hands-free fashion and use voice command to control it; or
• Any use of voice commands or hands-free mode to use the device.
If caught violating this law, you may be fined and required to perform community service. A first violation is a $100 fine or 16 hours of community service, or both. A second violation escalates to a $250 fine or 24 hours of community service, or both. Anyone with three violations in 3 years will also be ordered to complete a driver improvement course.
If you have an accident and are the at-fault driver while using a cell phone, fines are doubled.
James A. Carolan, CWS®, CTFA
Sr. Estate Planning Attorney
Executive Wealth Management and EWM Legal Solutions are separate but affiliated companies. Executive Wealth Management (EWM) is a Registered Investment Advisor with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Reference to registration does not imply any specific level of qualification or skill. Investment Advisor Representatives of EWM offer Investment Advice and Financial Planning Services to customers located within the United States.