New legislation that would make it illegal to use handheld cell phones has been proposed to strengthen the existing distracted driving laws in the state of Michigan. This is called House Bill 4277 or the 2021 Distracted Driving Update.
The document presented by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration entitled Overview of Motor Vehicle Crashes states that in 2020, the overall national number of fatalities in crashes wherein at least one driver is distracted was 3,124. Meanwhile, in Michigan alone, there were 23 lives taken in 2017 because the driver involved was using an electronic device behind the wheel.
The continuous increase in these statistics determines the need to revise the law. In her first State of the State Address, Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered the Legislature to prioritize Michigan’s distracted driving laws. At the time, the Michigan Vehicle Code provides that “a person shall not read, manually type, or send a text message on a wireless 2-way communication device that is located in the person’s hand or in the person’s lap, including a wireless telephone used in cellular telephone service or personal communication service, while operating a motor vehicle that is moving on a highway or street in this state.”
Lawmakers found this law to have many loopholes. The inadequacy of these statements makes certain hazardous situations legal, including reading or posting on social media, reading or typing emails, watching a YouTube video, playing a video game, and solving a puzzle, among others.
The Content of House Bill 4277
House Bill 4277 will amend the existing code, strictly prohibiting a person from using a mobile electronic device while operating a motor vehicle or a school bus.
The term “Mobile Electronic Device” is also clarified and defined as a handheld or portable device capable of providing wireless data or voice communication between individuals. It also includes electronic devices that can provide amusement.
The devices included in this bill are enumerated below:
- A cell phone.
- A broadband personal communication device.
- A text messaging device.
- A two-way messaging device.
- An electronic device that can receive or transmit text or character-based images, access or store data, or connect to the internet.
- A pager.
- A personal digital assistant.
- A laptop computer.
- A computer tablet.
- A stand-alone computer.
- A portable computing device.
- A mobile device with a touchscreen display that is designed to be worn.
- An electronic game.
- Equipment capable of playing a video, taking photographs, capturing images, or recording or transmitting video.
- Any similar device that is readily removable from a vehicle and is used to write, read text or data, or capture images or video through manual input.
As in any legislation, this prohibition has certain exemptions:
- First responders in the performance of their official duties are not affected by the guidelines mentioned. This includes firefighters, law enforcement officers, paramedics, operators of emergency vehicles, and the like.
- When there is an emergency, and a mobile electronic device is to be used to contact a law enforcement agency, health care provider, fire department, or any emergency services similar to 9-1-1
- Using a navigational system or GPS as long as it is hands-free
- Public utility employees responding to public utility emergencies
- Users selecting a name and contact number on a mobile device to make or receive a call or otherwise activating/deactivating a feature of a mobile electronic device
- The use of a mobile device in hands-free or voice-operated mode
- When the mobile device is integrated into a motor vehicle and has an interface that can be used through the vehicle
What Are The Penalties?
First Violation: When a person is caught violating this legislation on the first offense, a fine of $100 will be imposed. This can be substituted for 16 hours of community service.
Second Violation: In case of repeat offense, the offender will be penalized a civil fine of $250 or 24 hours of community service.
Should these instances result in an accident, the fine is doubled. The officer investigating the accident will produce an accident report clearly stating that the offender was using a mobile electronic device at the time of the accident.
Discuss Your Rights and Responsibilities Under House Bill 4277 with a Car Accident Lawyer in Michigan.
The Clark Law Office will provide a free consultation and discussion on matters pertaining to House Bill 4277. Our personal injury lawyers are highly competent and can walk you through the parameters of this legislation and are more than ready to support you in any cases involving the law. Feel free to contact us today at (517) 347-6900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for inquiries.