More than 2,800 drivers cited for distracted driving during campaign

Despite continued warnings from law enforcement agencies about the perils of distracted driving, more than 2,800 Minnesota drivers were cited by law enforcement agencies d[during a recent campaign.

Throughout the month of April nearly 300 agencies participated in a coordinated effort to increase education and awareness and help influence drivers to pay attention to keep people safe, according to a news release. 

"It’s easy to get distracted behind the wheel, but it’s not an excuse," Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director said in a statement. "This latest enforcement campaign shows some Minnesotans are still not getting the message. Distracted driving is dangerous driving. It’s up to every driver to put their phone away and focus their attention on the road to keep themselves and others safe."

Examples of citations included a driver admitting to Snapchatting their friends speeding away form the job they just quit, a school bus driver swerving across lane lines with four children inside and a phone at his face and a woman using a speedometer app to monitor her speed. 

In the Twin Cities metro area, agencies with the most citations during the campaign included the St. Paul Police Department (279) and the west (248) and east (115) Twin Cities region monitored by the Minnesota State Patrol. 

In Greater Minnesota, agencies with the most citations during the campaign included Virginia (167), St. Cloud (157), Duluth (111) and Rochester (100) regions monitored by the State Patrol.

In 2021, preliminary figures show distraction contributed to 2,982 injuries and 27 deaths.

Consequences for violating Minnesota’s hands-free law include $100 for a first offense, and $300 or more for a second and/or subsequent offense.

If a driver injures or kills someone while violating the hands-free law, you can face a felony charge of criminal vehicular operation or homicide.