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Michigan’s New Distracted Driving Law

June 9, 2023

Beginning June 30th, motorists in Michigan will be prohibited from holding—and in most instances—using a mobile device while operating a motor vehicle. Drivers who violate the new law will face fines and mandatory community service hours. Drivers can be fined if they’re stopped by law enforcement for holding their phones up during a call, scrolling their social media feeds, or any other phone use. Drivers are banned from using these devices at all times when the vehicle is in operation, even if stopped at a stop sign or traffic light.

On June 7th, Governor Whitmer signed three bills setting new standards for cell phone use while driving. As of the end of the month, only hands-free programs can be used, except in cases of emergency or to report a crime taking place.

The state has had a texting-and-driving ban for more than a decade. But back then most cell phones still had keyboards and couldn’t do what they can do today. The new law amends Michigan law to make it illegal to “use a mobile electronic device to do any task, including, but not limited to” the following:

  • Send or receive a telephone call;
  • Send, receive, or read a text message;
  • View, record, or transmit a video; and
  • Access, read, or post to a social networking site.

Moreover, the law makes holding or using a cell phone while driving a primary offense, which means that an officer could pull someone over and ticket them for this offense. However, the new legislation specifically says that law enforcement cannot search a driver solely because of this violation.


Any motorist who’s caught improperly using their phones while driving will be subject to a $100 civil fine for a first offense and/or 16 hours of community service. Each subsequent violation would result a $250 fine and/or 24 hours of community service. The fines would be doubled if the penalty happens during a car crash and are also greater for school bus and commercial vehicle drivers. An infraction will be considered a “serious traffic violation” for these drivers. As a result, if a driver accumulates two serious traffic violations in a three-year period, their license will be suspended for 60 days. If they have three of these violations in a three-year period, they will face an additional 120-day suspension.

Lawmakers and advocates say the new law will save lives. In 2021, there were 21 fatal automobile accidents in Michigan where cell phone use was a factor, according to the state Office of Highway Safety Planning.


There are a number of exceptions to the new ban on cell phone use while driving, including the following:

  • Drivers may use the GPS function of a device, provided the information is not entered by hand;
  • All drivers, except those with a level 1 or 2 graduated license, may use their device in hands-free mode, provided they only tap, push, or swipe their phones once to activate the hands-free setting;
  • All drivers may use a device for emergency purposes, like calling 911; and
  • Law enforcement officers, firefighters and other emergency personnel may use their phones in the performance of their duties.

The legislature included a bill requiring the Michigan State Police to draft a report on the number of citations issued under the new law in the first three-and-a-half years of its existence, as well as the race and ethnicity of those cited and the number of crashes, serious injuries, and deaths caused by distracted driving.

The Governor added that Michigan motorists should expect a statewide awareness campaign in the coming weeks, followed by aggressive enforcement of the new rule once it takes effect.

“This will reduce distracted driving crashes that have taken too many lives and shattered so many families across Michigan,” Whitmer said.

The new law makes Michigan the 26th “hands-free” state. A similar law recently enacted in Ohio has seen in a 9% drop in distracted driving crashes thus far, said Brad Wieferich, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation.

“Not only will this legislation protect the drivers themselves, [but] it’s also going to make our work zone safer — we have some very vulnerable people in those work zones,” he said, adding that drivers “need to have a much higher margin of attentiveness.”