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.