Michigan’s New Distracted Driving Law and Its Effect on Amateur Radio Operation in a Vehicle

On June 30, 2023, Michigan’s new Distracted Driving Law went into effect.

The nature of this law is to limit the use of handheld devices while driving a vehicle in the State of Michigan. The Michigan section of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL)’s State Government Liaison officer Ed Hude, WA8QJE was instrumental in seeing to it that the rights of amateur radio operators to operate their equipment from their vehicles while driving was not infringed.

The attached PDF copy of the new law has the appropriate verbiage highlighted so that it is easy to locate the portion that applies to amateur radio use in a vehicle if needed. It is suggested that we print a copy of this document and place it in an envelope in the glove box, where it will be readily available if needed.

A word of caution: Be advised that explaining the fine points of a law to a police officer who has just stopped you for what he/she considers to be an illegal act (distracted driving) when you are spotted using your ham radio as you drive can be a bit touchy. Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not want to discuss the finer points of the law with the officer. It may be more prudent to accept the ticket and then fight it in court.

If you have contact (stopped by) with a police officer for using amateur radio in your vehicle, please pass along the details to WB8R (wb8r@arrl.net). I am interested in how this new law will play out in the field. I have had conversation with the Coldwater Deputy Police Chief and the County Sheriff and hopefully, the road patrol officers are familiar with the new law.