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La Crescent

Minnesota set to implement ‘hands free’ cellphone law while driving

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Minnesota will become the 19th state to institute a law banning drivers from holding their phone starting Aug. 1.

It must be used by bluetooth or voice command on your dashboard.

The Minnesota State Patrol is not handing out warnings.

“We’ve been doing a lot of education the last few months,” Sergeant Troy Christensen said. “We’ve been active in the media and reminding people at events. Starting on August 1st we’ll be issuing citations.”

The new law is coinciding with rising numbers of distracted driving crashes and citations.

“Distracted driving we figure is a factor in one of four fatal crashes but it’s probably a low figure,” Christensen said. “Cellphones are a big part of that and our citations are increasing each year.”

If you have to use your phone, there are easy ways to do it without holding it.

“A lot of vehicles have the bluetooth capabilities or you can buy a relatively cheap one,” Christensen said. “Another option is buying a mount to stick on your dashboard.”

A first offense could cost you around $140, after fees and court costs.

Born in Decorah Iowa. I've been a news reporter for the last 10 years, starting right out of college in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Other professional opportunities led me to Marshalltown, Iowa and Antigo Wisconsin, before I finally was afforded the opportunity here in La Crosse. I've been here since 2016. I also act as the voice of local sports, doing play by play of high school and college football and basketball. When not working I enjoy golfing.