Your days of driving down the road, chatting on the phone in your hand, are over.
At least, legally speaking they are in Minnesota.
The new state law banning hand-held mobile phone use is now in effect, making it a $50 violation the first time law enforcement catches you doing it, and $275 for subsequent violations — plus some very expensive court fees.
The law took effect early Thursday morning. Here’s what the legislature did this spring:
The statute changes are pretty bewildering in written form. Here’s a simpler version from the state’s Department of Public Safety:
The bottom line: You can’t hold your phone in your hand to make calls. There’s no video chatting, gaming or watching streaming video, whether your phone is in your hand or not. State officials suggest the best solution is just to stick the phone in your purse or pocket, maybe even the trunk, and leave it there while you’re behind the wheel.
Of course, cars have become a workplace for many, and phones, with navigation and other features, are a key part of getting around for some.
To make it simpler to understand the do and don’t, I invited the state’s top authority on the subject, the head of the Minnesota State Patrol, Col. Matt Langer, to join me in the front seat of my 2009 Honda Accord for a little front-seat perspective on how things have changed.