SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) — A new law would mean big penalties for distracted drivers in Michigan.
State Representative Martin Howrylak (R-Troy/Clawson) has proposed a bill to fine drivers $250 for using an electronic device in the car that isn’t mounted and voice-activated.
“It will certainly spark a lot of interest — controversial, perhaps,” Howrylak said. “But, certainly everybody seems to have an opinion about what should and shouldn’t be legal when they’re driving.”
Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins is backing the law, saying his officers often see many of egregious things behind the wheel, but are powerless to do anything.
“This new proposed legislation really closes up those loopholes because it very simply, if a person is using a portable electronic device while operating a motor vehicle on the roadway then an officer can stop that person and take some action,” Hawkins said. “It doesn’t always have to be a ticket that’s written, sometimes there’s just an educational component to it.”
Under the plan, a second offense would carry a $500 fine and one point on the motorist’s licence.
Though it is already illegal to text and drive in Michigan, Hawkins said the law is too difficult to enforce because Southfield police can’t stop a driver for just that offense.
“It has to be associated with some other violation and when it’s a secondary offense in a municipality it means that typically the officers are enforcing it after a traffic accident,” Hawkins said.