Get ready for the new laws going into effect in Minnesota on August 1

Updated: July 31, 2019 05:56 AM

A batch of new state laws are set to take effect later this week as August begins.

You've likely heard about the hands-free law and updates to one requiring slower drivers to stay in the right lane, but many other laws go into effect on August 1, too.


While some new laws passed during the 2019 Minnesota legislative session have already taken effect, below are some of the new laws that take effect Thursday:

  • Hands-free law: The law broadens the state's existing ban on texting while driving, prohibiting drivers from holding a cellphone or other wireless communication device while driving. Drivers will be required to use hands-free technology to make calls, send messages, access any music or other content and use navigation software.

    You can still use a cellphone by using voice commands or single-touch activation while driving as long as you're not holding the phone.

    Justine Willrett, a sales manager at a metro Best Buy, said more people have been looking for mounts recently in preparation for the law. She said simple options include dash, vent and windshield mounts, and typically range from $20-$60. Or there's more advanced options that can do pretty much everything, including calls, text messages, navigation, music, etc. from your dash.

    "Our goal here isn't to write more citations, our goal is to change behavior and making sure people are getting where they need to go safely," Lt. Shank with Minnesota State Patrol said. 

    A first offense will cost $50 with the fine jumping to $275 for subsequent violations, not including court fees.

RELATED: Minn. State Patrol says hands-free law will make it easier to see violations

  • "Slowpoke" law: The law clarifies an exisiting law and states that on roads with more than one lane in each direction, a person must move out of the left-most lane to allow other vehicles to pass. However, it doesn't apply under conditions like preparing to turn left, taking a left lane exit, or when the lane is designated for a specific type of traffic, etc.

    The law will now also allow for drivers to face a $125 fine, but will only result in a ticket if drivers in the left lane are slowed by another driver going below the speed limit. So, if you're speeding, don't expect a slower driver that's going the speed limit to be ticketed.

RELATED: New law allowing citations to slow drivers in left lane goes into effect Aug. 1

  • Plate, sticker and license price increases: Fees for license plates, validation stickers and driver's licenses will increase. The fees include $7 for a set of regular and disability plates, $11.50 for specialty plates, $15.50 for personalized plates and $16.50 for collector plates. The fee is also increased by $3.75 for all REAL ID driver's licenses. The license fee, like the plate fee, is an additional 75 cents from Aug. 1, 2019 to June 30, 2022.

  • Light rail train drivers subject to reckless, careless driving laws: The new law makes it clear that prohibitions on reckless and careless driving apply to public transit vehicle drivers, closing a loophole in state law. Penalties for careless or reckless driving are up to 90 days in jail, up to a $1,000 fine or both. However, if it causes great harm or death, the penalties can increase.

RELATED: Loophole in state law exempting LRT operators from traffic violations closed by state lawmakers

  • Clinics required to disclose facility fees: Provider-based clinics will have to disclose facility fees for nonemergency services before any treatment. The law is intended to ensure patients aren't surprised by separate charges leading to higher out-of-pocket costs than expected, and requires prominently posted and easily accessed statements informing patients of potential separate charges at the facility. However, lab services, imaging and other services by health care staff not employed by the clinic are exempt from the requirment.

  • Stretch of highway to honor fallen corrections officer: A stretch of Trunk Highway 95, from Interstate 94 to Trunk Highway 35, will be designated as "Corrections Officer Joseph Gomm Memorial Highway." Gomm was attacked and killed by an inmate at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater in June of last year. He was a corrections officer for 16 years.

  • Predatory and sex offender policy changes: Some of the changes include a requirement for a sentencing judge to provide written justification if they wirte a stay of adjudication for felony criminal sexual conduct offenses; an increase in the maximum sentence for possession of child pornography to 10 years for offenses that involve victims who are younger than 13 years old; an increase in the maximum sentence for the "dissemination of child pornography for a profit or for using a minor in a sexual performance or pornographic work if the victim is under age 13 or if the offender is a repeat offender or registered as a predatory offender"; elimination of an exclusion to fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for deliberately touching a person's clothing that covers their buttocks with sexual or aggressive intent; prohibit a peace officer from sexually penetrating a person who is restrained by the officer or otherwise does not reasonably feel free to leave the officer's presence. Consent given by a victim cannot be used as a defense.

RELATED: Joseph Gomm coverage

Several other new laws also go into effect Thursday. You can see the full list of new laws and read more about them here

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