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Law banning cell phone use while driving being enforced in Washtenaw County

No cell phone sign
No cell phone sign

It is now illegal in Michigan to hold a phone or other electronic device while driving.

The penalties for violating the law include fines and, for three or more offenses, an order to complete a driver’s safety course. Using an electronic device while driving is now a primary offense, which means an officer can pull you over if they see you using your phone. And that includes when you are stopped at a traffic light.

Keith Flores is the Washtenaw County Sheriff Officer’s Commander of Police Services. He says driver inattention is one of the leading factors in most crashes.

“We see a lot of people around us using their phones. If they’re sitting at lights or sitting in traffic and we’re sitting in traffic with them waiting for a light to change, it happens quite a bit. This law takes all of that away. So, you’re not allowed to do any of that.”

Prior to this law, texting while driving was against the law, but it was a secondary offense. Plus, it was difficult to judge if a driver was texting or doing other things on their phone. Commander Flores says, now, the law is much more cut and dry.

“For us now, any time we see anybody with a phone in their hand, it does make it easier for us to make that traffic stop and enforce or educate.”

Michigan is the 26th state to have a distracted driving law that bans holding devices. Drivers are only allowed to use phones in hands-free mode, with exceptions for emergency calls.

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Josh Hakala is the general assignment reporter for the WEMU news department.
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