More than 5,000 hands-free citations issued in Minnesota since August

A driver uses a cellphone on the road.
A driver uses a cellphone while driving in December 2011 in Houston. In Minnesota, there have been more than 5,000 hands-free law citations issued since the rule went to effect in August.
David J. Phillip | AP 2011

More than 5,000 hands-free citations have been issued since the law went into effect this summer, new data from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety shows.

The new law has made it illegal to use a cellphone while driving in Minnesota — including scrolling or surfing the internet, not just talking or texting.

Traffic safety director Mike Hanson said the numbers are in line with expectations for the relatively straightforward law. Law enforcement may easily spot people with cellphones in their hands.

"Drivers, you just can't have the phone in your hand, period. For law enforcement, they no longer have to determine what you were doing on the phone when they observed it," Hanson said. “You can't be scrolling, you can't be surfing the internet, Snapchatting, Facebooking, watching videos or anything like that. Just the fact that you have it in your hand is the violation."

He said people can learn more about the law on the Office of Traffic Safety’s website.

The hands-free law also is the centerpiece of the Toward Zero Deaths Conference in St. Cloud, Minn., this week.

Hands-free cellphone law: What you can — and can’t — do under the new law

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