A new law about driving and the use of devices like cell phones goes into effect tomorrow (Fri 6/30).  In the following, Columbia Township Police Chief Jay Niles outlines what the law is about and how his department intends to enforce it:

On June 7, 2023 the Governor signed into law amendments to what is commonly referred to as the distracted driving law.  The goals of these laws are to enhance the safety of the public and prevent potential tragedies related to motor vehicle crashes as a result of the use of handheld electronic devices such as cellular phone while driving.  The changes in this law have made the use of handheld devices illegal.  The use of the handheld devise includes the manipulation of a cellular phone including but not limited to using a mobile electronic device to do any of the following including, but not limited to, any of the following;

  • send or receive a telephone call
  • send, receive, or read a text message
  • view, record or transmit a video
  • access, read, or post to a social networking site
  • reaching for a mobile electronic device in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that the driver is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a seat belt that is installed adjusted in accordance with the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.

The new law does allow the use of a cellular phone to place a call to 911 and/or the use on a voice activated basis.

The first violation is a $200.00 civil fine or perform 32 hours of community service or both. The second or subsequent violation is a $500.00 civil fine or perform 48 hours of community service or both.  If an individual is involved in an accident for which the individual is at fault when the individual violates this section, any civil fine ordered must be double the amount that would otherwise be ordered.

The law is a great addition to the motor vehicle code.  The use of cellular phones while operating a motor vehicle continue to be a problem and with the amendments of this law safety will improve.  As police officers, it is incumbent upon law enforcement to maintain the safety of the motoring public and the community as a whole.  Columbia Charter Township Police Department will continue to enforce the motor vehicle code including this new public act in the most fair, firm and efficient method possible.  Our efforts regarding this newest addition to the motor vehicle code will consist of an educational portion that will demonstrate to the community the intricacies of this law.  In the coming weeks this effort will transition from the issuing of verbal warnings to ultimately the issuing of citations for the violation themselves.  It is our hope that the community will embrace this new law and refrain from using a cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle and thus making a safer environment for all.  This new law will take effect June 30th, 2023.

To view the law, please click here.

Editor’s note:  The Michigan Department of Transportation is posting 37 signs.