New hands-free law coming

Sgt. Neil Dickenson

Q: Can you please explain the new hands-free cell phone law?  

A: Under the law, you may not hold your phone in your hand and cannot use it at any time for video calling, video live-streaming, Snapchat, gaming, looking at video or photos stored on the phone, using non-navigation apps, reading texts and scrolling or typing on the phone.

The new law allows a driver to make calls, text, listen to music or podcasts and get directions, but only by voice commands or single-touch activation without holding the phone.

You are allowed to hold and use your phone to obtain emergency assistance or if there is an immediate threat to life and safety. Using a phone when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties is also allowed.

Traditional GPS units are exempt from the hands-free law. In-car screens and systems are also exempt. In both cases, most of these systems lock when the vehicle is moving.

The new hands-free bill was signed by Gov. Tim Walz on April 12, and goes into effect on Aug. 1.

But don’t wait. Get into the habit of driving hands-free or purchasing a hands-free device.  For more on the law that takes effect Aug. 1, go to

Q: I recently purchased a 2018 Polaris Ranger. We have a 2 year old son and I am wondering what the laws are. Does he need to be in a car seat or booster seat with a helmet? Thank you in advance.


A: When riding on ATVs, OHVs and motorcycles, a passenger under age 18 must wear an approved helmet when riding on public lands or waters, or on a public road right-of-way.

An approved helmet must meet federal law, which requires the helmet to display the symbol “DOT.” The important thing to keep in mind is the size of a child’s head and neck, and the weight of a legal helmet. The weight of the helmet may be too much for the child to safely support, especially when being bounced around on the trail. Bike or hockey helmets do not provide good protection for traveling in a vehicle.

• Wear a seat belt if provided by the manufacturer on public lands or waters, or on a public road right-of-way.

Send questions to Sgt. Neil Dickenson – Minnesota State Patrol at 1131 Mesaba Ave., Duluth, MN 55811 or

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