MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Hands-Free law has been on the books for four months now, debuting on August 1, and the number of tickets police are issuing is going up.

Mike Hanson at the Department of Public Safety says 2,729 citations were given in September, which is over 400 more from August.

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Hanson says drivers are not seeing as much Hands-Free Law messaging on the roads and in the media since the August 1 rollout.

“We had a very aggressive, very wide-ranging outreach, education campaign, so there was a lot of public awareness. Now since that time, we’ve had to back off a little bit,” said Hanson.

He also says drivers are just struggling to break habits.

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“Some of those old habits have a way of coming back, and it takes time and invested effort to change those bad habits on a permanent basis,” Hanson said.

Another new bad habit law enforcement is running into under this new law is seeing drivers pulled over on interstates to use their phones. Hanson says this is not only dangerous, but illegal.

“Find a parking lot, a convenience store, a gas station, somewhere where you’re completely away from traffic, where you’re not going to pose a distraction,” said Hanson.

While some police departments may have given grace periods in the first month of hands-free, that grace period is over. It’s break bad habits or break the law.

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More warnings about this law are on their way. The state has set aside $350,000 for more awareness and education campaigns in 2020.

Marielle Mohs