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Distracted Driving Accident Laws & Texting (What Drivers Need to Know)

WRITTEN BY:
Steven Matz
April 5, 2024 | Car Accident

Key Takeaways:

  • Distracted driving occurs in many ways and is often preventable.
  • Driving with distractions often leads to serious injury or death.
  • Michigan imposes strict penalties for drivers who engage in distracted driving.
  • Teens can also suffer specific consequences for engaging in distracted driving on Michigan’s roadways.
  • The State of Michigan has consistently been adapting its laws for distracted driving, most recently making new additions regarding cell phone use in 2023.

In 2021, there were over 16,500 crashes in Michigan involving a distracted driver. Over one-third of those accidents took place in just three counties — Wayne County, Macomb County, and Oakland County. You could be a perfect driver and still get in an accident because someone else on the road was not paying attention.

When you are hurt because someone else was careless, Matz Injury Law steps in. Learn about Michigan’s distracted driving laws and how a car accident attorney can help you recover what you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call our compassionate personal injury lawyers at 1-866-22Not33.

What Counts as Distracted Driving in Michigan?

Drivers might engage in one or more distracted driving behaviors and cause a serious accident. There are three types of distracted driving:

  • Visual distractions involve taking your eyes off the road.
  • Manual distractions mean you take your hands off the wheel.
  • Cognitive distractions are when you take your mind off driving.

Michigan considers the following activities to be driver distractions and are illegal to engage in, even if stopped at a traffic light.

  • Sending or receiving phone calls
  • Sending or receiving text messages
  • Entering GPS coordinates while driving
  • Viewing, sending, or recording videos
  • Reading or posting to social networking websites
  • Looking up pages on the internet

The bottom line is that Michigan’s drivers are required to be “hands off” when it comes to managing digital devices while operating a motor vehicle.

Consequences of Driving Distracted in Michigan

Woman texting and driving behind the wheel

Michigan is very clear it does not want motorists to drive with distractions. This is for everyone’s safety. To discourage distracted driving, the state sets specific penalties.

  • First violation: $100 fine and/or 16 hours of community service
  • Subsequent violations: $250 fine and/or 24 hours of community service
  • Three violations within three years: Take and complete a driver-improvement course
  • Civil fines are doubled when the distracted driver causes a crash while holding or manually using a device.

Distracted driving is now a primary offense. This means police officers can stop and ticket you if they see you. You do not have to be pulled over for another reason.

Consequences for Teens Caught Texting and Driving

Michigan recognizes the concerning statistics regarding teens and mobile phone use while driving and prohibits its use. In 2013, legislators passed a bill known as “Kelsey’s Law,” referring to a tragic 2010 cellphone-related fatal accident that killed a teen.

Violations are considered to be civil infractions, and fines may be up to $240. Restrictions on their Level 1 or Level 2 licenses can be expanded or extended. Michigan allows for some exceptions, such as reporting an emergency or safety issue.

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What Are the Points for Distracted Driving in Michigan?

Michigan assigns “points” to drivers found guilty of traffic violations or plead guilty to one. How many points a driver is assigned will depend upon the circumstances and whether or not distracted driving causes an accident. Different infractions are assigned a points number, which varies depending upon the violation.

  • Minor offenses are one or two points
  • Serious offenses are three to six points
  • Points stay on a driver’s license for two years
  • Individuals cannot get driver’s license points removed from their license early

In some cases of distracted driving, a driver may get no points, but in other cases, can receive several points, especially if the actions equate to specific moving violations, including but not limited to careless driving, reckless driving, disobeying traffic signals, speeding, or other illegal driving actions.

The Latest Michigan Distracted Driving Laws

In June 2023, the Michigan governor signed three bills clearly outlining it is illegal to hold or otherwise support (e.g. arms, shoulders) phones and other electronic devices while driving.

  • House Bill 4250: Updates Michigan’s distracted driving laws to expand from texting while driving to making it illegal to watch or record videos, use social media, scrolling, and other uses. (Voice-operated or hands-free is permitted if a driver needs to use a device.) This bill also empowers courts to have drivers complete driver improvement courses if they continue to commit infractions.
  • House Bill 4251: Makes negligent drivers accountable for putting themselves and others in danger by adding stipulations for commercial drivers, points on licenses, and requiring driver improvement courses.
  • House Bill 4252: Requires Michigan State Police to submit progress reports in 3.5 years to evaluate effectiveness.

Additionally, when your device is mounted, you still cannot use it beyond a single touch. An exception to handling a device is if you need to make an emergency call. For GPS, if you have voice-activated abilities, this is also permitted for navigation.

Related Resources

Why Clients Choose Matz Injury Law

We are proud of our reputation and record. At Matz Injury Law, we are known for putting the needs of our clients as a priority. Over several decades, our lawyers have traveled extensively throughout both the Upper and Lower Peninsulas to meet with and represent our clients in various legal situations. We also help them file personal injury claims.

We believe in listening to our clients, and once we assess the situation, we will work hard to help them get the financial support they need after suffering a car accident or other type of personal injury. To date, our law firm has earned more than $300 million for our clients, ranging from thousands to multi-million dollar settlements.

Most personal injury law firms charge the standard contingency fee of 33 1/3% on recovered funds. Matz Injury Law believes you should keep more of your settlement money, so we take a different approach with our 22% contingency fee. Contingency fees mean if you do not collect, neither do we.

Man texting on his phone after a rear end accident

Testimonials

“For anyone looking for an attorney, please look no further than Matz Injury Law!! Not only was Jared professional, he helped me beyond what I could have asked for. I’m so thankful for you all!!! To say I’m appreciative and grateful is an understatement. There’s no need to look for any other attorneys for your auto accidents!! They are so wonderful!!! Highly recommended 10/10!!!!!” — Tessa C.

“Many thanks to Jared and the staff at Matz [Injury] Law! You definitely helped ease a very stressful situation. I really didn’t have to do anything, you folks did it all, which I appreciated very much. It’s never a pleasant experience when someone runs a red light and you wind up with lifelong injuries…and I sure didn’t want to have to deal with the insurance company too. 2 thumbs up from me!” — Kim B.

We Are Focused on Your Recovery

Auto accidents can be traumatic experiences, especially when a crash could have been preventable had the at-fault driver obeyed Michigan law. The types of injuries accident victims face are often life-altering and result in substantial medical bills.

If you or a loved one suffers injury due to a distracted driver, the compassionate and understanding legal team at Matz Injury Law is here for you. While you focus on healing, we will take care of the details to help you obtain fair compensation.

  • Discuss the legal options of your personal injury case
  • Help you gather evidence, including eyewitness testimony, police reports, photos, cellphone records, and other evidence
  • Assemble an accident case
  • File your accident claim
  • Negotiate with insurance companies
  • If necessary, represent you in trial

Our experienced Southfield, Michigan personal injury attorneys can help you recover compensation to cover medical costs, pain and suffering, or justice for the wrongful death of your loved one. If you need help in the aftermath of a motor vehicle accident, call Matz Injury Law to schedule a free case evaluation. Our phone number is 1-866-22Not33, or if you prefer, you can contact us through our convenient online contact form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Hands-Free Devices While Driving in Michigan?

Yes, as long as you are using Bluetooth or integrated systems. According to Michigan Law, anything more than a single touch is illegal.

When am I Allowed to Use My Phone While Driving in Michigan?

Michigan recognizes certain circumstances may warrant needing to use a phone. Exceptions include reporting: traffic accidents, medical emergencies, serious road hazards, criminal activities, or if the individual thinks their safety is in jeopardy.

Can I Use My Phone While Stopped at a Light?

No, using your phone when you stop at a traffic light is illegal. You can only use your phone if you are behind the wheel when you are legally parked.

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Written By Steven Matz

Founding Shareholder

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury.

The maximum contingency fee permitted by law is actually 331/3%. Michigan court rules require that the attorney fee be computed on the net sum recovered after deducting all disbursements properly chargeable to the enforcement of the claim.

What does 22not33 mean, exactly?

We can charge 22% while virtually all other injury attorneys charge 331/3% because we are very, very, good at obtaining results for our clients.

We do not spend millions of dollars on television ads; instead, we offer a lower fee to all our clients. We do not have dozens of lower paid associates handling our work. All our clients are represented by Steven and Jared Matz. Steven Matz started the firm in 1977 and since then has dedicated his life to representing injury victims. Jared joined the firm in 2016 but grew up listening to stories, discussing theories, and generally learning at the dinner table about how to effectively and compassionately represent injury victims. Jared Matz was literally born to represent individuals involved in motor vehicle crashes.

All of our cases are handled on a contingency fee and all our cases are handled at 22%. Whether the case settles or goes through trial, the fee does not change. While our competitors make excuses as to why they charge so much, we are obtaining results for our clients at a lower fee.

At a typical television advertising law firm, your first call will be handled by a receptionist, who may refer you to an intake person, who will discuss your claim with an intake manager, who then discusses your claim with an associate, who may then report to a partner. You may never speak with the person whose name is at the top of the letterhead. At Matz Injury Law you will always speak with either Steven Matz or Jared Matz.