MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new law is forcing many of us to change how we use our phones. Starting Thursday, it is no longer legal to hold your phone with your hand while you’re driving.

The new Hands-Free Law means just that.

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Instead of holding your phone you have to use voice commands to make a call or text someone.

You are allowed to use devices that will make a call or text with just one touch of a button, but that’s it. The only time it’s okay to hold your phone is if you are calling 911 in an emergency.

The first morning of hands-free took us from Minneapolis to St. Paul.

We saw plenty of drivers with their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road- but not everyone.

“If they go out and enforce it, it will work. If they don’t, It won’t do much,” said driver Dean Monkelien.

At around 2:00 Thursday morning the first driver in the state was cited in the West Metro.

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The first citation will cost you $50. It’ll be $275 for every infraction after that.

The Department of Public Safety estimates that on average, distracted driving leads to 45 deaths and more than 200 life-changing injuries a year.

“I’ve been there where we knock on doors in the middle of the night and we see these people- these are our friends who have been struck head-on by the tragedies of distracted driving,” said Col. Matt Langer, chief of the Minnesota State Patrol.

During a press conference at the Capitol, law enforcement and lawmakers were surrounded by families of distracted driving victims.

“My dad Joe was killed by a driver who was texting when she hit him,” said Greg Tikalsky.

Tikalsky and his family were among those who pushed hard for a hands-free Minnesota. They formed a strong bond through shared tragedies.

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“I look forward to the day that driving with a phone in your hand will cover the same stigma as driving with a beer in your hand,” said Tikalsky.

John Lauritsen