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New Law Prohibits Commercial Drivers From Using Hand Held Mobile Phones

Sgt. Mark Thompson of the Michigan State Police advises on the use of cell phones for Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) operators.

This column is dedicated to Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) operators. A new law took effect on Jan. 3 regarding the use of mobile phones in a CMV and it would behoove the drivers and owners of these vehicles to pay particular attention to this new law because violating it could become very expensive.

A CMV is defined as; Any self-propelled or towed motor vehicle used on a highway in interstate of intrastate commerce to transport passengers or property when the vehicle:

  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating, gross vehicle weight or gross combination weight of 10,001 pounds or more, whichever is greater.
  • Is designed or used to transport more than eight passengers (including driver) for compensation.
  • Is designed or used to transport more than 15 passengers (including driver) and is not used to transport passengers for compensation (does not include school buses).
  • Is used in transporting material found by the Secretary of Transportation to be hazardous and transported in a quantity requiring placarding.

This definition would include semi-trucks and trailers, box trucks, businesses that have trucks with trailers (lawn care types) and tow trucks. This list is to provide examples and is not all inclusive of what is defined as a commercial vehicle but suffice it to say if your vehicle requires a Department of Transportation (DOT) number, then you drive a commercial vehicle.

The new law involves the use of mobile telephones while driving a CMV. The short answer is drivers of CMV’s cannot use the standard mobile telephone while operating their vehicle.

The Michigan State Police publishes legal updates which helps Troopers and other law enforcement officers to be informed of new laws or legal precedents. Below is the update regarding commercial motor vehicle drivers use of mobile/cellular telephones.

“Effective Jan. 3, 2012, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration amended 49 CFR 392.82 to prohibit a driver from using a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). Additionally, the rule prohibits a motor carrier from allowing or requiring its drivers to use a hand-held mobile telephone while driving a CMV. The rule contains an exception for drivers when necessary to communicate with law enforcement officials or other emergency services.

The rule defines “driving” as meaning operating a CMV on a highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays. “Driving” does not include operating a CMV when the driver has moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and has stopped in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary.

The rule defines “use a hand-held mobile telephone” as meaning any of the following: (1) using at least one hand to hold a mobile telephone to conduct a voice communication; (2) dialing or answering a mobile telephone by pressing more than a single button, or (3) reaching for a mobile telephone in a manner that requires a driver to maneuver so that he or she is no longer in a seated driving position, restrained by a properly installed and adjusted seatbelt.

Michigan has adopted 49 CFR 392.82 pursuant to MCL 480.11a. Police officers who observe a violation of this rule may issue a citation under MCL 480.11a. Violation is a state civil infraction.”

We all know people who make their living driving a CMV, semi trucks, private snowplows, lawn care, etc. All have to hustle to earn their way and most have a mobile phone as their business phone.

Hence, the reason I want to bring this law to everyone’s attention. Under Michigan law, a commercial motor vehicle driver would be issued a citation and the fine for under Michigan law is $250.00.

The type of mobile phones a CMV driver could use would include those types of mobile phones utilizing Blue Tooth technology or other phones which can be programmed for hands free, one button service. Using CB radios would still be legal.

Motor Carrier Officer Robert Lechtanski of the Brighton Post assisted with this column. Officer Lechtanski, has been a member of the Michigan State Police, Motor Carrier Division for ten years. He has served at the Monroe, Detroit and Jackson Posts, served three years with the Homeland Security Team, is a Departmental Firearms Instructor and is a member of the committee updating the statewide report writing system for the Michigan State Police.

If you have a question, please send it to askatrooper12@gmail.com or mail it to the Michigan State Police – Brighton Post, 4803 S. Old US-23, Brighton, MI 48114.

Editor's Note: This article has been changed to correct the fine amount for a commercial motor driver using a mobile phone.

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