Ask a Trooper: An explanation about new cell phone law

Published 7:37 pm Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Ask a Trooper by Troy Christianson

Troy Christianson


Question: Can you please explain the new hands free cell phone law?

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Answer: Under the law, you may not hold your phone in your hand and cannot use it at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.

The new law does allow a driver to use their cell phone to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.

You are allowed to hold and use your phone to obtain emergency assistance or if there is an immediate threat to life and safety. Using a phone when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties is also allowed.

Traditional GPS units and other systems that can be used for navigation are exempt from the hands-free law. In-car screens and systems are also exempt. In both cases, most of these systems lock when the vehicle is moving.

The new hands-free bill was signed by Gov. Tim Walz on April 12, and goes into effect on Aug. 1.

But don’t wait until Aug 1. Now is the time to get into the habit of driving hands-free or purchasing a hands-free device.

For more on the law that takes effect Aug. 1, go to

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota toward zero deaths.

If you have any questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota, send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson, Minnesota State Patrol, at 2900 48th St. NW, Rochester, MN 55901-5848; or reach him at

Troy Christianson is a sergeant with the Minnesota State Patrol.