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Ask a trooper: Increased fine for texting and driving

Q: Can you talk about the new increased fine for texting and driving? A: Drivers who repeatedly choose texting over safety while behind the wheel risk a higher fine for violating the law. Under the new enhanced law, drivers face a $225 fine for s...

Sgt. Neil Dickenson
Sgt. Neil Dickenson

Q: Can you talk about the new increased fine for texting and driving?

A: Drivers who repeatedly choose texting over safety while behind the wheel risk a higher fine for violating the law. Under the new enhanced law, drivers face a $225 fine for second and subsequent violations of the texting while driving law, in addition to the current $50 fine. The $275 fine, plus court fees, can cost an offender more than $300.

Minnesota Statute 169.471-Texting is illegal, including when stopped in traffic.

  • "No person may operate a motor vehicle while using a wireless communications device to compose, read, or send an electronic message, when the vehicle is in motion or part of traffic."
  • Also illegal to access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic.
  • It's illegal for drivers with a permit or provisional driver's license to use a cell phone while driving, except for emergencies to call 911.

Distracted driving is a leading factor in crashes each year in Minnesota.

  • Distracted driving accounts for one in four crashes.
  • Distracted driving is responsible for 60 deaths and 225 serious injuries each year.
  • Driver inattention or distraction is the number one contributing factor in multiple-vehicle crashes.
  • Driver inattention or distraction contributed to more than 17 percent of all fatal crashes and more than 24 percent of all injury crashes in 2014.
  • In 2014, driver inattention or distraction contributed to 61 deaths and more than seven thousand injuries on Minnesota roads.

Make the Right Choice

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  • Cellphones - Put the phone down, turn it off or place it out of reach.
  • Music and other controls - Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.
  • Navigation - Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.
  • Eating and drinking - Avoid messy foods. Secure drinks.
  • Children -Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.
  • Passengers - Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver's attention off the road.

  Sgt. Neil Dickenson is a public information officer with the Minnesota State Patrol. Send your questions to trooper@duluthnews.com . You may remain anonymous if you wish. A portion of state statutes were used with permission from the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.

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