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ASK A TROOPER: New cell phone laws

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.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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