20 June 2023

Michigan Expands Distracted Driving Law to Ban Handheld Cell Phone Use

On June 7, Governor Whitmer signed legislation amending Michigan’s distracted driving law, making it illegal to hold or use an electronic mobile device while driving. The law is effective on June 30, 2023.

Employers should consider updating their policies or publishing a communication to employees prohibiting handheld cell phone use in accordance with this new law in Michigan.

Further, employers who require or allow employees to make work-related phone calls while driving might consider providing employees with compliant equipment like dashboard mounts.

Previously, Michigan’s distracted driving law banned texting while driving. The new law expands the distracted driving law to ban most handheld cell phone use while driving. Effective June 30, Michigan drivers can be pulled over and ticketed if seen using their hands to:

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

First responders like firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians are exempt from the new distracted driving law. All drivers are allowed to use electronic mobile devices to contact the appropriate authorities during an emergency.

In non-emergency circumstances, drivers may use mobile electronic devices in a “voice-operated or hands-free mode.” This means that drivers may not hold a mobile electronic device with any part of the hands, arms, or shoulders. However, drivers can use electronic mobile devices to make phone calls or use navigation features so long as they place cell phones in a dashboard mount or connect cell phones to a touch screen that is built into the vehicle.

If you have any questions about the new distracted driving law, please contact your Miller Johnson attorney or the authors of this alert.

***Summer Associate, Sydney Blitchok contributed as an author to this client alert.***