Hands-free driving requirement clears MN Senate, allows scarves, hijabs to hold phone

SAINT PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) – On Monday, the Minnesota Senate voted overwhelmingly to ban drivers from using cell phones except in hands-free mode.

The Senate’s 56-10 vote followed a similarly overwhelming vote in the House earlier this month. It clears the way for negotiations between the two chambers over their differing versions.

The hands-free bill got stuck in the Senate a year ago, and family members of distracted driving victims were thrilled that it cleared that hurdle this year.

“Every time we testify we relive the moment that our loved ones were taken away because of one person’s behavior that can take 30 seconds,” Danielle Wishard-Tudor told reporters while choking back tears after the vote. Wishard-Tudor’s brother, Jean-Claude Wishard, was killed by a distracted driver near Minnetrista in 2017.

The Senate’s version exempts GPS usage from the hands-free requirement. Senators also voted 37-29 Monday on a change letting people use scarves, hijabs or other clothing to hold a phone.

It will require negotiation to get a final version that can pass both chambers. Lawmakers from both parties and Gov. Tim Walz have named the issue as a priority.

Categories: Local News, Minnesota News, Politics / Elections