As we’ve talked about quite frequently on the blog since the law went on the books on August 1, Minnesota police have had no qualms about issuing citations to drivers they believe are in violation of the state’s Hands-Free law. They are pretty good at their job too, as they have issued more than 9,700 citations to drivers violating the statute. However, the more concerning fact to come to light regarding these statistics is that only 178 drivers have had their citations dismissed when challenging them in court. That’s a less than 2% turnover rate.
Why Are Dismissals So Hard To Come By?
So why are so many individuals finding it hard to challenge their Hands-Free violation in court? The main reason is because the new law means a number of different actions are now a violation. In the past, an officer had to witness someone looking down at their phone or texting while they were driving. With the Hands-Free law in place, if the officer simply sees a phone in someone’s hand while they are driving, even if they aren’t looking at it, it is a violation by the letter of the law. Police no longer need to prove that you were texting or reading an email, they just need proof that your phone was in your hand.
You are allowed to touch your phone once to send voice-activated text messages or put a call on speakerphone, but multiple touches are a violation of the law. Actions like dialing a phone number other than 911 or entering GPS coordinates constitute a violation, and many people still try to do these actions while the car is in motion.
Dash cameras and other recording devices are also making it easier for police to capture evidence that someone is on their phone. Police are also given special training on how to document certain behaviors so that their testimony is seen as more credible in court if the driver wants to challenge the citation.
Challenging A Hands-Free Violation
We talk more about whether or not it’s worth your time to challenge one of these citations in this blog, but now we’re going to focus on how to beat the charges. For starters, document your version of events as soon as the interaction with police ends. If you were in the right, write down exactly what happened so that details don’t fade with time. Next, talk with an attorney. We’ll explain whether hiring a defense firm is worth the investment or if you might be better off challenging the case on your own. Either way, you’ll leave this meeting with more confidence about how to best proceed with your citation.
When you arrive to court to challenge your citation, stick to the facts. If you wrote down your version of events, it will be easy to stick to your story. Don’t embellish the truth or feign ignorance, because it won’t work. Stick to your facts, arrive to court 15 minutes early, and be respectful during your interaction. If you do all of these things, you’ll put yourself in the best position to beat the citation or at least have the fine amount reduced.
For help with any traffic ticket issues in the Greater Minnesota area, reach out to Avery and the team at Appelman Law Firm today.