Stiff penalties for those that choose to use phone while driving
TRI-CITY AREA — Starting Friday, June 30, only hands-free cell phones can be used while driving, except in cases of emergency or to report a crime taking place.
This means, starting Friday, drivers can be fined if they are stopped for holding their phones during a call, scrolling their social media feeds or any other phone use.
“While Driving” also includes while stopped at a traffic light or a stop sign.
Using a cellphone while driving will be a primary offense–meaning that law enforcement could pull someone over and ticket them for this offense. The new law makes Michigan the 26th so-called hands-free state.
Under the new law, those caught improperly using their phones while driving would be subject to the following fines:
$100 civil fine for first-time offenders and/or 16 hours of community service, $250 fines for each subsequent violation, and/or 24 hours of community service.
Fines would be doubled if the penalty occurs during a car crash.
If a person driving a commercial vehicle or a school bus is caught holding or using a cellphone, they would face the following fines:
First violation: $200 fine or 32 hours of community service, or both. Second or subsequent violation: $500 fine or 48 hours of community service, or both.
Under the legislation, if a crash were to occur and the at-fault driver was holding or using a cellphone while driving, any civil fines ordered “must be double the amount that would otherwise be ordered.”
Law enforcement, first responders and other public emergency workers would not be prohibited from using a cellphone while performing official duties.
As with any primary infraction observed on the roadways, the potential exists to get pulled over.
Local police chiefs say they do not intend to go out of their way looking for violators, but on the other hand, they will observe, as they do for any violators, while on patrol.
Capac Interim Police Chief Carlo Dealco said patrol officers, “will not treat the new law any differently than the laws already in place.” He added, “It is a discretion thing, for the officer to decide whether or not a stop is made.”
Dryden Township Police Chief, Shawn Peters, said the new law is just one more thing for officers to keep track of, commenting “Our department will focus on all traffic laws this summer as the warmer months can be some of the most dangerous on Michigan roads.”
Meanwhile, Imlay City Police Chief Selby advised, “The best advice I could give is don’t bring it to our attention and we won’t be inclined to bring it to yours. Certainly, our department will also participate in any state campaigns for distracted driving enforcement as well.”
Law enforcement agencies from all levels including local, county and state will be out in full force this Fourth of July weekend, keeping an eye on violators.