ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – Minnesota’s new cellphone law aims to keep your life out of a distracted driver’s hands.
Just hours after it took effect, police started pulling over drivers for disobeying the hands-free rule that started Thursday. WCCO’s Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield rode along with officers in St. Paul on the first night of the new law.READ MORE: Amid Missionary Hostage Crisis, Minnesotan From Port-Au-Prince Wishes 'Haiti Would Get The Help They Need'
St. Paul Police have pulled over 28 people and counting. Two got tickets, one for texting and one for browsing Instagram. We rode along as an officer reminded drivers you can’t hold your phone to your ear or in your hand even if it’s on speaker. WCCO learned these are rules not everyone knows.
“It usually happens a lot during rush hour cause they know they are gonna be stopped at a red light at least a minimum of one minute or more,” said Officer Xue Vang, who works with the St. Paul traffic unit.
And that’s exactly how he spotted a driver with a phone in hand on Snelling Avenue at rush hour.
“The reason I pulled you over, you were on your phone and you were holding your phone,” Vang said.
He was partially familiar with the new law. Officer Vang gave him a warning and some info.
“This is the hands-free law, it’s a brochure,” Vang said.
Next stop was the most surprising.READ MORE: Nurses Complete First Day Of Strike At Plymouth's WestHealth
“In this case, she was using this (makeup) compact and it looks exactly like a phone,” Vang said.
That was the exception. Most involved phones. The next man we found said he’d heard about the law but didn’t know details.
“In the work that I do, trying to get to the next call, get to that stuff so I get it,” he said.
The last car we spotted didn’t spot us. It took a few seconds to get her attention.
“The reason I stopped you is because you were on your phone,” Vang said.
She said she wasn’t texting, she was getting directions. She said she had never heard of the hands-free law.
“I actually work almost 24 hours a day, so I don’t get any free time to watch TV,” she said.
So officers are taking a hands-on approach to make sure others keep their hands off. Officer Vang said the first hands-free day wasn’t different than any other day. He saw about the same amount of violations.MORE NEWS: Sheriff: Man Dies From Suicide After Allegedly Killing Roommate, Roommate's Father In Northern Minnesota
Tickets will cost you from $50 to $275 plus court fees.