This Thursday, August 1st, a number of new laws are set to go into effect, so I wanted to take a moment to let you know about some of them.
One of the most notable new laws is the “hands-free” law, which prohibits holding cell phones and other wireless communication devices while behind the wheel of a car. House Public Information Services provided this description of the new law:
“The new law broadens the state’s existing ban on texting while driving, barring drivers from holding a cellphone or other wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle that is in motion or operating as a part of traffic on a street or highway. Drivers will be required to use hands-free technology when making calls, sending messages, or accessing content — including audio and navigation software — behind the wheel.”
While drivers can send messages using hands-free technology, it is still illegal to read texts or watch videos. There are exceptions for obtaining emergency assistance if there is an immediate threat to life and safety, or when in an authorized emergency vehicle while performing official duties.
According to the Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety, "The new law does allow a driver to use their cell phone 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."
I've linked a helpful resource from the Department of Public Safety if you have any questions on how to comply with the Hands-Free Law: https://dps.mn.gov/divisions/ots/hands-free/Pages/default.aspx.
Other new laws beginning August 1st include:
- More people will be allowed to administer Epi-Pens to help someone having an allergic reaction – authorized individuals will now include people who successfully complete a training program.
- Provider-based clinics will now need to disclose facility fees for nonemergency services before treatment, in order to ensure patients are not surprised by additional charges related to the use of the facility, which result in higher out-of-pocket costs.
- A new law prohibits retaliation against residents or employees of a nursing home or a housing with services establishment who intends to file a complaint, reports maltreatment, or participates in a legal proceeding, among other protected activities.
- Community emergency medical technicians will now be permitted to serve on a basic life support ambulance service, and services provided by community paramedics via telemedicine will now be covered under Medical Assistance.
- There is a new provision requiring slow vehicles to stay on the right side of the road and move out of the left-most lane to allow others to pass, with some exceptions.
- A new law allows a police officer to issue a citation to a driver if a work zone flagger has reported a traffic violation, such as speeding or violating traffic flagger directions, if the citation is issued within 4 hours of the violation.
- Light rail train drivers will now be subject to reckless and careless driving laws, with penalties of a fine of up to $3,000 and imprisonment for up to one year if a violation causes great bodily harm or death.
- If a person fails a test to determine if they are operating a motor vehicle under the influence, their snowmobile, ATV, and motorboat operating privileges will now be revoked.
As always, if you have a question about a particular law change, please contact my office.
If you need assistance on an issue pertaining to state government or have concerns or ideas about legislation, my office is available to you. You can e-mail at Rep.Marion.ONeill@House.mn or call my office at 651-296-5063. You can also write a letter to me. My office address at the Capitol is 357 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, St. Paul, MN 55155.