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Law-Law Land: A Number of New Laws Take Effect Today in MN and ND

Law-Law Land: A Number of New Laws Take Effect Today in MN and ND Click to Enlarge

(St. Paul, MN) -- Starting today (Thurs 8/1) it's illegal for Minnesota drivers to use their cell phones while behind-the-wheel, except in hands-free mode. Minnesota State Patrol Chief, Colonel Matt Langer says the only thing people can do while driving is put their phone into hands-free mode with single-touch activation.

It's now also illegal for drivers to hold their phone while at a red light or stopped in traffic. And even in hands-free mode, it's illegal to do any gaming, video streaming, face-timing, scrolling on the Internet or use any social media apps. For answers to frequently-asked-questions about the new law, visit handsfreemn.org. There is no grace period and violators could face fines of 50-dollars for a first violation and a 275-dollar fine for subsequent infractions.

Minnesota’s “slowpoke” law officially takes effect today (Thursday). The law clarifies that drivers need to move out of the left lane so that other vehicles can pass. Supporters say keeping the left lane clear will reduce stress on the road…improve safety…and can ward off road rage. According to traffic officials, the law has always been there, beginning today, August 1st, there's more teeth to it with a $50 fine (and typically $75 in court fees) attached.

Also starting today, the use of e-cigarettes is prohibited in most workplaces and all public places where smoking is already banned. Laura Smith with Minnesotans for a Smoke-Free Generation says the law will be beneficial for everyone--especially children and teens...

The new law expands the definition of smoking in the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act to protect the public from harmful e-cigarette aerosol in public places like restaurants, bars and stores.

In North Dakota, laws passed by the North Dakota Legislature this year go into effect today. Those include the repeal of a ban on Sunday morning shopping. Some marijuana penalties will be lowered as well.

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