Q: Now that Minnesota’s hands-free law is in effect, it seems there are numerous vehicles pulled over on the shoulder with the driver talking or texting on the phone. This seems unsafe. Is it legal, and if not, what is the recommended procedure upon receiving a call or text that needs a prompt response and hands-free options are not available?
A: Current Minnesota law does not allow motorists to stop on a freeway unless it is for an emergency. Pedestrians, bicycles, motorized bicycles and non-motorized traffic also are prohibited on the freeway. We encourage motorists to find a safe place to exit and find a parking lot or legal parking area before manipulating their phone.
Another potential issue is that we might get numerous calls into dispatch center reporting an occupied stalled vehicle. A trooper is then sent to the reported location to either find someone talking on their phone or no longer at the site. Instances like this prevent us from utilizing our resources as efficiently as possible.
On other roadways, I would always encourage a motorist to find a safe, legal place to pull over. Remember, under the law, you may not hold your phone in your hand and can't use it at any time for video calling, video streaming, social media apps, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.
The new law does allow a driver to use their cellphone, but only in hands-free mode by voice commands or single-touch activation.
Emergency calls are allowed both in hand-held and hands-free mode.
Send your questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota to firstname.lastname@example.org or Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811