Michigan Texting While Driving Law

Michigan Texting While Driving Law



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Starting this Thursday, July 1, 2010, Michigan motorists will have a new law to worry about.  Designed to make the roadways safer, MCL Section 257.602b makes it illegal to “read, manually type, or send a text message on a wireless 2-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in the person’s lap, … while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street.” 

If you violate this law by texting or e-mailing while driving, you will be committing a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine for a first offense and a $200 fine for a second offense.  However, no points will be added to your driving record for a violation.  The law is silent on the consequences for more than two offenses.

The prohibition against texting while driving does not apply to a person who is:

  • Reporting a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious road hazard;
  • Reporting a situation in which the person believes his or her personal safety is in jeopardy;
  • Reporting or averting the perpetration or potential perpetration of a criminal act against the individual or another person; or
  • Carrying out official duties as a police officer, law enforcement official, member of a paid or volunteer fire department, or operator of an emergency vehicle.

How the police will determine whether you are texting (illegal) or dialing numbers to make a phone call (still legal) remains to be seen.  How aggressively the police will use this new law to investigate other potential criminal offenses is also an open question.

One thing is certain, I expect to see more motorists pulled over starting July 1, 2010.  I also expect to see more criminal cases for drunk-driving, drug possession, weapons possession, and similar offenses that started with a traffic-stop for an alleged violation of Michigan’s new ban on texting while driving.