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'Hands free' phone bill expected to be signed by Gov. Walz this week

A compromise bill passed the Minnesota House on Tuesday.

Minnesota is on its way to banning all cellphone use behind the wheel unless it's hands-free after a bill passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

The House agreed to a bill having hashed out some differences with a similar bill passed in the Minnesota Senate last month.

The bill passed by a vote of 107-19, and now just needs the Senate to pass the same bill before it heads to the Governor's Office to be signed by Gov. Tim Walz.

It will mean that the use of a cellphone to make a call while driving will be punishable with a traffic ticket that will start at $50 for a first-time violation – and subsequent violations $275 – unless the phone is being used hands-free.

There are already laws in place prohibiting the use of cellphones to send a text, use an app or browse the internet behind the wheel.

Some elements of earlier bills were removed from the final bill – including the provision that would have allowed people to hold their phones in their head scarves, hijabs or other headwear while driving, which had been passed in the Senate's version of the bill.

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Also taken out was a House-passed provision that would have led to a traffic stop demographics study.

Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-Minneapolis), who was the chief author of the bill, said: "With distracted driving fatalities continually on the rise, Minnesotans deserve common sense safety measures to combat these preventable tragedies.

"I’m glad we could pass this long overdue bill in a bipartisan fashion to help make our roadways safer for everyone."

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