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"Kelsey's Law" In Michigan: Cell Phone Ban For Inexperienced Drivers

On March 28th, 2013, Kelsey's Law (Public Act 592 of 2012) went in effect throughout Michigan to prohibit certain young and inexperienced drivers from using a cellphone during the operation of a motor vehicle. This new statute was named in honor of seventeen-year old Kelsey Raffaele, who died in a 2010 automobile crash due to distractions from cellphone usage. The Michigan Legislature passed this law in hopes that this tragedy will never happen again.

"[A]n individual issued a level 1 or level 2 graduated license... shall not use a cellular telephone while operating a motor vehicle upon a highway or street." MCL 257.602c(1).

  • "Use" of a cellphone means to initiate a call, answer a call, or listen or engage in verbal communication through the cellphone device. MCL 257.602c(1).
  • A "level 1" graduated license is earned by a person who is at least 14 years 9 months old and has completed 24 hours of classroom instruction, 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction, 4 hours of observation time in a training vehicle, passed a vision test, met certain health standards and obtained parental approval. MCL 257.310e(3).
  • A "level 2" graduated license is earned by a person who had a level 1 graduated license for at least three months, have completed at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel driving experience (including no less than 10 nighttime hours of driving) with a parent or responsible adult, not incurred any moving violations resulting in a criminal conviction or civil infraction in the 90-day period before application, successfully passed the segment 2 driver education course and completed an approved driving skills exam. MCL 257.310e(5).
  • "Kelsey's Law" does NOT apply to a person who has earned a level 3 graduated license or a full operator's license.

This statute does not apply to a voice-operated system that is integrated into the motor vehicle. MCL 257.602c(3). An individual with a level 1 or level 2 graduated license is NOT prohibited from using a cellular telephone while operating a motor vehicle upon a highway or street for any of the following purposes:

  • Report a traffic accident, medical emergency, or serious road hazard. MCL 257.602c(2)(a).
  • Report a situation in which the person believes his or her personal safety is in jeopardy. MCL 257.602c(2)(b).
  • Report or avert the perpetration or potential perpetration of a criminal act against the individual or another person. MCL 257.602c(2)(c).

An individual who violates Kelsey's Law is responsible for a civil infraction punishable by a fine. This offense does not result in any points on the driver's Michigan license record.  However, this offense can result in delays for a level 1 graduated license holder moving up to level 2 due to the requirement that the applicant must be violation-free for 90 consecutive days.

A person accused of a civil infraction is not required to admit responsibility and can request a formal or informal hearing before a district court judge or magistrate. An traffic attorney can help you present an effective defense or may be able to negotiate a resolution with the prosecutor that results in a favorable outcome.

If you or a loved one is accused of any traffic offense in the State of Michigan, do not hesitate to contact the experienced lawyers at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC today.

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