Everything You Need to Know About Minnesota’s Texting and Driving Laws

Under Minnesota's texting and driving law, texting while driving is a primary offense and carries a fine of at least $50.
Written by Amber Reed
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
In 2008, Minnesota became one of the first states to prohibit texting and driving. If you are caught texting and driving, fines range from $50 to $275. Minnesota uses primary enforcement of its distracted driving laws, which means that officers can pull you over right away if they see you breaking them. 
Minnesota takes distracted driving very seriously. In 2018, Minnesota law enforcement officers wrote roughly 10,000 citations for texting while driving. Despite these new laws, a recent survey showed that 41% of Minnesotans admitted to texting while driving
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s website states that “distracted or inattentive driving is when a driver engages in any activity that might distract them from the primary task of driving—and increases their risk of crashing.” 
Every state has its own version when it comes to texting and driving laws. Let
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What are the texting and driving laws in Minnesota?

Minnesota prohibits text messaging and internet use for all drivers, even if you’re stopped at a red light. In addition to that, the use of handheld phones is illegal for all drivers
Minnesota distracted driving laws also ban:
  • Any cell phone use for drivers under 18, even in hands-free mode
  • Any cell phone use for school bus drivers when the bus is in motion, even in hands-free mode
While behind the wheel, you are permitted to touch your phone only once to initiate a call or send a voice-activated text. Multiple touches, such as dialing a number or inputting a destination in your Google Maps, are illegal. 
Key Takeaway Minnesota forbids texting, internet use, and handheld phones for all drivers.  

What are the penalties for texting and driving in Minnesota? 

If you are caught texting and driving in Minnesota, it’s considered a petty misdemeanor and you will pay a fine of $50 for your first offense. Subsequent violations will add up, though—after your initial ticket, the fine jumps to $275.
There may also be additional surcharges that are often more than the fine itself. Surcharges for a first offense are around $135, and $376 for each offense after that. 
Minnesota (like many states) has a fairly loose definition of what it considers distracted driving. And if distracted driving leads to injury or death, you’re looking at a far more serious charge of careless or
reckless driving
Key Takeaway Between the fine itself and the surcharges, texting while driving in Minnesota can cost you anywhere from $185 to $635. 

Are there exceptions to Minnesota’s texting and driving law? 

Yes. Minnesota makes allowances for texting or using your cell phone under certain circumstances. Here are the details:
  • Texting is permitted if done in hands-free or voice-activated mode (provided you’re 18 or over) 
  • Cell phone use is permitted for drivers under 18 if it’s for the sole purpose of calling emergency services, crime prevention, or if you feel your safety is in danger
  • Adults may use a handheld device for the sole purpose of calling emergency services, crime prevention, or personal safety
  • You may use the GPS on your phone if it doesn’t require you to type repeatedly

Are there special rules about texting and driving for young drivers? 

Yes. Minnesota is one of several states that prohibit cell phone use for drivers under 18, even if the phone is in hands-free mode. This includes texting.

Can texting and driving raise my insurance premium?

Most certainly. Texting and driving is considered a moving violation by insurance companies, so getting a ticket for it will raise your premiums. The average annual cost for full coverage car insurance in Minnesota is about $1,643.
If you’ve earned a
safe driver discount
, a ticket for any type of distracted driving can cause you to lose that as well. 

How to save money on car insurance in Minnesota

Minnesota falls pretty much in the middle of the road when it comes to car insurance costs. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a way to save, though. 
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No. You cannot be put in jail just for texting and driving. However, Minnesota law states that if texting and driving leads to the injury or death of another person, charges could rise to the level of careless or reckless driving. These types of violations can result in fines of several thousand dollars and jail time.
There are about 75,000 car accidents every year in Minnesota, and distracted driving causes more of them than either speeding or driving while intoxicated. Driving while distracted (DWD) is considered by some to be the new DWI. Minnesota takes the issue very seriously and has designated March as Distracted Driving Awareness Month.
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