For immediate release
April 5, 2023
Media contact: ALPD Lt. Jeff Strom at 507-377-5254
Albert Lea Police Department: Hands free is hands free
Extra enforcement of texting and driving law on Minnesota roads in April
Hands free means hands free – except for the steering wheel – when driving. Drivers in Albert Lea and Freeborn County will see increased enforcement of Minnesota’s “hands free” law in April. Distracted driving is as great of a concern as impaired driving and speeding, according to the Albert Lea Police Department (ALPD), which reminds drivers that holding your phone while driving is illegal.
The Albert Lea Police Department and Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office are taking part in extra enforcement along with more than 300 law enforcement agencies across Minnesota. The distracted driving campaign that runs through April 30 is coordinated by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (DPS-OTS).
“Who would run through the halls of a school or a crowded store blindfolded? Only those looking to get hurt you might say,” said ALPD Lt. Jeff Strom. “So why would you do the same behind the wheel of a car? That’s essentially what people are doing when looking down at their phones. Enough is enough! Now is the time to change the culture, put down the phone, tune out the distractions and speak up if you see others on the road making dangerous decisions. Together we can save lives on Minnesota roads.”
Distracted driving behaviors
Posting on Facebook, checking that box score or Googling information on a device while driving are all against the law under Minnesota’s “Use of Wireless Communications Device” statute, which is commonly referred to as the texting and driving law.
Distractions that could lead to a crash also include fiddling with controls for music, eating and drinking, children fighting or an adult passenger’s behavior.
Distracted driving consequences
With Minnesota’s “no texting” law, it’s illegal for drivers to read, send texts and emails, and access the web while the vehicle is in motion or a part of traffic. That includes sitting at a stoplight or stop sign. Violations may result in a:
- $50 fine plus court fees for a first offense.
- $275 fine plus court fees for a second and/or subsequent offense.
- Felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide if you injure or kill someone because of texting and driving.
Do your part and join Minnesotans driving distracted-free
- Cell phones: Put the phone down, turn it off or place it out of reach.
- Music and other controls: Pre-program radio stations and arrange music in an easy-to-access spot. Adjust mirrors and ventilation before traveling.
- Navigation: Map out the destination and enter the GPS route in advance.
- Eating and drinking: Avoid messy foods and secure drinks.
- Children: Teach children the importance of good behavior in a vehicle and model proper driving behavior.
- Passengers: Speak up to stop drivers from distracted driving behavior and offer to help with anything that takes the driver’s attention off the road.
Distracted driving education is a component of Minnesota’s core traffic safety effort, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to create a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing and promoting safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes: education, enforcement, engineering, and emergency medical and trauma response.
The Albert Lea Police Department mission is to enhance the quality of life in Albert Lea by providing excellent public safety services through leadership, integrity, and in collaborative partnerships with our community.