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What’s New?

Distracted driving has caused many auto accident deaths and severe injuries, and so many of us continue to rationalize using our cell phones while we’re driving.  Given the accidents caused by distracted driving, our state government has focused on toughening up the laws for using a cell phone while driving.

Starting June 30th, holding and using a mobile electronic device (cell phone, GPS, etc.) while driving will be a primary offense — meaning an officer could pull you over and ticket you for this offense.  The new legislation specifically states that police would not be allowed to search you solely because of this violation… but all pre-existing reasons to search are still there!  Texting and driving after a couple of beers just became a worse idea than it was before.  If you still don’t know how to use voice commands (without holding your phone), now is the time to figure that out!

The fines for violating this law remain relatively light.  Did you know that the response time of someone using a cell phone is in the same league as drinking and driving?  The fines and penalties for drinking and driving are quite sobering.  For violating the hands-free driving laws you’re likely to pay more in auto insurance surcharges than the state’s fines.  The insurance companies in Michigan haven’t all figured out how their points system and accompanying surcharges to your auto policy will work.  However, it’s very likely to be considered a “primary offense” and your policy could be surcharged even after one hands-free violation.

By the way, there’s a difference between the points on your driving record maintained by the state and the points on your insurance driving and eligibility record maintained by the insurance companies.  The State of Michigan shares your driving record with your insurance company and tells them which offenses can be used to surcharge your policy.  The insurance companies decide which offenses will generate a surcharge, and the insurance companies have their own point scoring system.  A one-point violation on your State of Michigan driving record might be more than one-point on your insurance company driving and eligibility record.  Each insurance company does this differently.

Time will tell how this all works out.  It’s better to not violate this law – for you and everyone else!

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