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ASK A TROOPER: New cell phone laws

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lifestyles Brainerd, 56401
Brainerd MN 506 James St. / PO Box 974 56401

Question: Can you talk about the new cell phone law including penalties, concerning banning the use of cell phones when operating a commercial vehicle? I would like more information. Thanks!


Answer: I will try to give you some bottom-line information. Driving using a hand held mobile device is considered a serious traffic violation that would result in a CDL driver being disqualified. Research shows that it is 6 times more likely for a commercial vehicle driver to be involved in a safety-critical event when dialing a mobile phone than those who do not. Effective January 3, 2012, it is illegal for anyone driving a commercial vehicle [CMV] to use a hand-held mobile phone. Minnesota State Statute 221.0314 subdivision 6 adopted the Federal regulation below:

49 CFR § 392.82 - Using a hand-held mobile telephone

(a) (1) No driver shall use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV.

(2) No motor carrier shall allow or require its drivers to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV.

(b) Definitions. For the purpose of this section only, driving means operating a commercial motor vehicle on a highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic-control device, or other momentary delays. Driving does not include operating a commercial motor vehicle when the driver has moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and has halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

(c) Emergency exception. Using a hand-held mobile telephone is permissible by drivers of a CMV when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services.

*Note: Subdivision (a) (2) Motor Carriers cannot allow or require use of hand held mobile telephones while driving a CMV; they could be subject to up to $11,000 in civil penalties if not complied with.

States will suspend the driver’s CDL after two or more violations. Penalties for a conviction of this offense will be CDL disqualification: 60 days for a second offense within three years and 120 days for three or more offenses within 3 years. In addition, the first and each subsequent violation are subject to civil penalties in amounts up to $2750.

I hope this information is what you were looking for. Otherwise, for more information go to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website:

If you have any questions concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send your questions to: “ASK A TROOPER” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers MN State Patrol P.O. Box 644 Brainerd, MN 56401 or email questions to with Ask A Trooper in the subject line. Questions may be edited for space or content and are not guaranteed to be published.