Several states have enacted their own legislature about using communication devices while driving.
As is common, each state’s regulation is different.
Now, to prevent confusion, we’re going to guide you through the Minnesota hands-free law. So whether you’re living in the state or only visiting, you will know what you can or can’t do when you’re behind the wheel.
Here, we’ll cover what the law states, what it means for drivers, and the consequences you’ll face for violating it.
We also included some commonly asked questions, so don’t forget to check our FAQ section.
Are you ready to begin? Let’s go!
Hands-Free Law in Minnesota
The number of drivers using electronic handheld devices while behind the wheel increased in the last 10 years. It went from 1.5% in 2011 to 3.4% in 2021.
Because of this, legislators in Minnesota took steps to keep the state’s drivers from distracted driving. In August 2019, Minnesota became the 17th state to enact a hands-free law.
As the law states, you can’t do the following when you’re behind the wheel:
- You cannot access the internet while driving.
- You cannot use a mobile phone or any other electronic device to write, read, or send messages.
- If you’re under 18 and holding an instruction permit or a provisional license, you cannot use a mobile phone for any reason other than calling 911.
- You cannot wear earphones or headphones on both ears to listen to the radio or other audio devices.
- You cannot take videos, live stream, play games (even if offline), and scroll through social media platforms while behind the wheel.
And remember, these laws apply even if you’re not moving due to traffic.
Hands-Free Law Exemptions in Minnesota
For adult drivers over 18 years old, the law doesn’t say you can never use your phone.
Here are some exemptions:
- If you pair your phone to your car’s entertainment system so you can use them hands-free
- You can continue to use your mobile phone through voice commands or single-touch activation
- You can input your destination on your phone before getting on the road if you’re using it for navigation purposes
- You can hold your phone if calling 911 in emergencies or if there’s an immediate threat to your life
Remember, besides the last point, these exemptions are not allowed for teen drivers under 18 years old, or for those that hold an instruction permit or provisional license.
Hands-Free Penalties in Minnesota
If you break the hands-free law and, in turn, that leads to an accident, then you will have to face the penalties.
Your first violation will cost you $50. Any subsequent incidents result in a $275 penalty.
If that sounds expensive, it’s because it is. But don’t forget that the amounts mentioned above only cover the fine.
There are fees associated with a citation that increases by at least $75. And, if you break another law besides the hands-free one, you could get penalties for that, too.
Got some questions? Then let’s answer the most frequently asked ones about distracted driving in Minnesota.
Can you be on your phone at a red light in Minnesota?
No, you can only use your phone if you are in park mode. So you cannot text, scroll through social media, or surf the internet even if you are at a red traffic signal, a stop sign, or caught in a traffic jam.
That said, you can use it only if it’s by voice command or single-touch activation. Again, that’s only if you’re above 18 years old and hold a full driver’s license.
Does a hands-free ticket go on your record in MN?
Yes, a violation of Minnesota’s Hands-Free Law goes on your driving record. That means you can expect your insurance premium to increase when you renew your policy.
Can you talk on the phone while driving in Minnesota?
Adult drivers can talk on the phone while behind the wheel. However, you cannot hold your phone while doing so. You should be either using your cellphone’s hands-off feature or have it connected to your car’s head unit. You can also take calls using a Bluetooth receiver.
You cannot, however, use earphones or headphones to take a call.
Is it illegal to eat and drive in Minnesota?
Technically, no. No law prohibits you from eating while driving.
However, eating (even if it’s just a sandwich) requires you to take your hands off the wheel. You’ll also be thinking of other things, like how to avoid getting stains on your seats. These are forms of distracted driving and could lead to accidents.
What are examples of distracted driving?
Using your mobile phone while you’re behind the wheel isn’t the only form of distracted driving. Here are others:
- Eating or drinking
- Putting on makeup or grooming
- Playing music too loudly (even if you’re not using your earphones)
- Searching or reaching for something in the backseat
- Having rowdy passengers (whether adults, children, or even pets)
- Being tired or emotional
How to avoid distracted driving?
You can do many things to prevent yourself from being distracted. Here are some great tips:
- Keep your phone out of your line of sight, whether in your center console or glove compartment. If you can’t (for example, you’re using it for GPS), turn off the notifications from your mobile apps at least until you arrive at your destination.
- Do a quick rundown of what you need to do before pulling out of your driveway. These may include whether or not you’ve put on your makeup and entered your destination on your navigation app.
- Be READY to drive. If it’s been a long day, maybe winding down at a restaurant or a cafe can put you in a better place mentally and physically.
The Wrap Up
And that was everything you needed to know about the Minnesota Hands-Free Law.
Using your phone is a huge distraction as it can take your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel, and your attention off the task at hand.
So make sure to keep your phone away while you’re behind the wheel. And if you can’t help it, then you can use hands-free mode.
And remember, your phone is only one possible distraction — there are many other distractions, such as eating, grooming, arguing, etc.
Try to avoid all these distractions as much as possible.
It’s always better to be safe than sorry.