It was in early 2019 that Governor Tim Walz signed the hands-free cell phone bill into law -- telling Minnesota drivers they were no longer able to hold their cell phones in their hands; effective August 1st, 2019.

Now here we are one year later, with more than 19,000 drivers having been cited under that law that prohibits drivers behind the wheel from holding a phone or any electronic device.

Minnesotans are still be able to use their phones 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.

Remember, hands-free is not necessarily distraction-free. We want Minnesotans to stay safe, stay alive and stay out of trouble under the new law.

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Now that the law's been on the books for a year, Minnesota law enforcement agencies from across the state will be conducting a distracted driving education and enforcement campaign that coincides with the first anniversary of the state’s hands-free law.

The State Patrol reminds us that we may not hold our phone in your hand. Also, a driver may not use their phone 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.

In Minnesota, 40 people die every year on average because someone chose to drive distracted.

The penalty for not being hands-free while driving can be more than $120 for a first offense (including the fine and court fees), which can climb to more than $300 after that (fine and court fees).

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