Michigan Texting and Driving Law

Man looking at mobile phone while driving a car. Visual concept for legal blog on Michigan texting and driving law.

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in Michigan. Studies show that distracted driving is as dangerous, if not more so, than driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Despite the dangers of distracted driving, surveys show that more than half of all drivers have admitted to distracted driving.

Distracted driving occurs whenever a driver takes their attention away from the road. Common examples of distracted driving include eating, drinking, and adjusting your radio or navigation system. But the most common forms of distracted driving are talking on the phone and texting while driving.

To address this public safety issue, the Michigan legislature passed a new law to combat texting while driving. The law, which went into effect on June 30, 2023, makes it illegal to hold and use a mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. Law enforcement officers can stop a Michigan driver and issue them a ticket if the driver is seen using their hands to:

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

First responders like firefighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians are exempt from the distracted driving law, and all drivers are allowed to use a mobile device to contact authorities during an emergency.

In non-emergency situations, a driver can use a mobile device in voice-operated or hands-free mode, meaning the driver cannot hold the device with any part of their hands, arms, or shoulders. Drivers are permitted to use a mobile device to make calls or access navigation features if the device is in a dashboard mount or connected to a touch screen built into the vehicle.

Michigan’s new cell phone law makes holding or using a cell phone while driving a primary offense, meaning police can stop a driver and ticket them for the offense. However, police are not allowed to search a driver solely because of an alleged violation of the Michigan phone driving law.

Penalties for Violating the Michigan Texting and Driving Law

Drivers who violate the Michigan distracted driving law face the following penalties:

  • A $100 fine or 16 hours of community service for a first violation;
  • A $250 fine or 24 hours of community service for a second or subsequent violation, plus one “point” on their driver’s license;
  • Drivers with three or more texting violations within a 3-year period receive two “points” on their driver’s license and must complete a “basic driver improvement course.”

A person who violates Michigan’s texting and driving law while operating a commercial vehicle or school bus faces:

  • A $200 fine or 32 hours of community service for a first violation;
  • A $500 fine or 48 hours of community service for a second or subsequent violation.

If a crash occurs and the at-fault driver was holding or using a cell phone while driving, any civil fines “must be double the amount that would otherwise be ordered.”

How Does the Michigan Texting and Driving Law Affect Teen Drivers?

“Kelsey’s Law” makes it illegal for teen drivers to use a handheld cell phone while driving. It was passed in 2013 to honor Kelsey Raffaele, a 17 year old from Sault Ste. Marie, who died in 2010 in a cell phone-related car accident. Under the law, teen drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 graduated license are prohibited from talking on the phone or using a handheld cell phone while driving. Violation of Kelsey’s Law is a civil infraction, but no fine or points are assigned to the teen driver’s future license. The new texting and driving law does not alter the consequences — or lack thereof — for teens who violate Kelsey’s Law.

What About Remote Texter Liability?

The Michigan distracted driving law does not address “remote texter liability,” the idea that someone who texts a driver may be held legally liable if the driver causes a crash that results in injury or death. Remote texter liability is especially important for businesses that communicate with delivery drivers and employees who drive as part of their job.

Contact Muth Law, P.C., for Expert Legal Representation in Your Michigan Car Accident Injury Case

Distracted driving has become a nationwide public safety crisis. While Michigan and other states have taken steps to address the issue, distracted driving, and texting and driving in particular, continue to cause serious, sometimes fatal accidents.

If you were injured or someone you love was killed in an accident with a distracted driver, the car accident injury lawyers at Muth Law, P.C., can help. Our lawyers have decades of combined experience representing people who were injured and the families of people who were killed in car accidents in Michigan. We understand the Michigan texting and driving law and how it can affect liability in your car accident injury case. We can use our experience and expertise to evaluate your case and maximize the financial compensation you receive when a car accident causes injuries.

To put our personal injury attorneys to work for you, call 734-481-8800 or contact Muth Law to schedule a confidential, no-obligation consultation to discuss your situation and how we can help.

Categories: Auto Accidents