There seems to be little dispute that texting and driving is rampant. This really hit close to home at the beginning of the summer when Mark was involved in an accident caused by two (2) other vehicles in which both drivers were texting while driving. The first vehicle involved had completely stopped at a flashing yellow light on a major four (4) lane road and then began texting with his head down. Mark was able to stop in time for this first vehicle but had to honk his horn several times to get the texting driver's attention back onto the road and realize that he should not have stopped his vehicle for the flashing yellow. While this was occurring a second vehicle suddenly slammed into the rear of Mark's vehicle at approximately fifty (50) miles per hour. The driver of second vehicle admitted that she too had been texting while driving, had her head completely down just prior to the accident and did not even see the two (2) vehicles completely stopped in front of her. Quite fortunately, despite an incredible amount of vehicle damage, Mark suffered only very minor injuries from the accident. Sadly, this accident was easily preventable and only highlights the seemingly never ending problem of distracted driving and, in particular, texting and driving. So, we've decided that this event is a very good opportunity to revisit and amplify Michigan's text messaging and cell phone laws.
As a starting point, Michigan's law bans the reading, typing and sending of text messages on any type of cell phone, smart phone or tablet while driving a motor vehicle. The actual language of the law states:
"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. As used in this subsection, a wireless 2-way communication device does not include a global positioning or navigation system that is affixed to the motor vehicle." Exceptions to this law include texting while driving to report an accident, to prevent theft and to protect your safety. Additionally, Michigan law does allow a driver to dial and talk – including without a headset.
It is important to note, however, that texting and driving is considered a "primary offense" in Michigan which means that your vehicle may be stopped by the police based only upon a "reasonable suspicion" that you were texting and driving. In other words, you do not need to be speeding, or committing any other type of moving violation, to be pulled over for texting and driving. The offense is, however, a civil infraction (rather than a criminal offense) which means that it is punishable only by fines rather than a term in jail. A first offense carries statutory fines of $100.00 whereas a second or subsequent offense carries a $200.00 fine. Individual insurance companies may vary but some will also penalize you in the form of higher insurance premiums.
For a breakdown of greater information and detail regarding Michigan's texting and cell phone use law, as well as the corresponding penalties, here is a link to the statute on the Michigan Legislative Website:
Without question, texting and driving is dangerous. Please recognize the safety factors involved and use good common sense while operating a motor vehicle. While the legal ramifications may only appear to be nominal, failure to abide by the law may have much larger consequences including serious injury or even death. If you have any further questions regarding Michigan's texting and cell phone use law, or need assistance about any other criminal or personal injury matters, please do not hesitate to contact us at any time for an absolutely free and completely confidential consultation.