Teen driver cell phone ban takes effect ThursdayPublished 9:44am Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Teenage drivers in Michigan will need to refrain from using their cell phones beginning Thursday, or face a fine of up to $100.
Known as Kelsey’s Law, the restriction was named in honor of Kelsey Raffaele, 17, of Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., who was tragically killed in a cell phone-related crash in 2010.
The law states that teen drivers with Level 1 or Level 2 licenses under the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program are prohibited from using a cell phone while driving. It takes effect Thursday.
The state is bringing awareness of the new law with a public information campaign, supported through federal traffic safety funds.
“Born from tragedy, Kelsey’s Law will help novice drivers focus solely on driving,” said Michael L. Prince, OHSP director. “The largest contributing factors to teen traffic crashes are inexperience and immaturity. Driver distractions only exacerbate these situations so we hope teens will remember to put their phone in park.”
Violations of Kelsey’s Law will be a civil infraction with fines up to $100 and possible additional costs up to $100. There are no points associated with this civil infraction and it does not impact status in the GDL program. Exemptions to the law include emergency situations and hands-free devices.
In 2011, 52 people were killed in Michigan and 452 were seriously injured in crashes involving drivers ages 17 and younger. Of those fatalities, 16 were a 14 to 17-year-old driver.
Level 1 and Level 2 license holders are between 14 years, nine months old and 17 years old.
The Michigan Legislature approved Kelsey’s Law at the end of the 2012 legislative session. The legislation was sponsored by Sen. Howard Walker, R-Traverse City, and supported through the efforts of Kelsey’s mother, Bonnie.