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Posted on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 11:58 a.m.

'Kelsey's Law' banning young drivers from using cellphones takes effect Thursday

By Kyle Feldscher

The law banning young drivers from using cellphones while driving is set to take effect on Thursday.

Known as Kelsey’s Law, the legislation will ban drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 driver’s license from using a cellphone while they are operating a motor vehicle. Gov. Rick Snyder signed the legislation into law in January.


The crash scene after Kelsey Raffaele's car and a Dodge Durango crashed Jan. 24, 2010.

MLive Media Group photo

A Level 1 driver’s license is commonly called a learner’s permit and is available to people who are at least 14 years and 8 months old. A Level 2 license is available to people who are 16 years old and have at least six months of experience with a Level 1 license. Drivers typically move to a Level 3 license at age 17.

The law is named after Kelsey Raffaele, a 17 year old driver from Sault Ste. Marie who was killed when she was talking on her cellphone on Jan. 24, 2010.

The law makes it a civil infraction for drivers with a Level 1 or Level 2 license to be using their cellphones while driving. Officers are allowed to stop a driver if they believe the person is using a cellphone without the proper license.

The law does not apply to a driver who is using a voice-operated system integrated into the vehicle.

More than 30 states have similar laws banning teenage drivers from using cellphones while driving.

Kyle Feldscher covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.



Mon, Apr 1, 2013 : 8:38 p.m.

So, per the article Level 1 and Level 2 drivers are usually 16 and younger; Level 3 drivers are usually 17. Seventeen (17) is the age Kelsey was when she died while on her cell when driving. Yet the law bearing Kelsey's name does not cover most drivers of the age she was when she died. She would probably not have been considered a young driver. This makes no sense! It should address EVERYONE!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:25 p.m.

I'm a supporter of this IDEA. I agree with most commenters that the minors only thing is pretty arbitrary. I think this also will single out minors that aren't even on their phone for being pulled over for doing nothing wrong. Cops will be more likely to suspect minors. And the article states that cops are allowed to pull kids over just for the suspicion of using a phone. How about all the 18 and 19 year old kids? I guess they'll just get harassed a lot.

A A Resident

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:03 a.m.

While there may be those who drive OK while texting or phoning, there is no one who will not be a better driver by focusing all their attention on driving.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:25 a.m.

No matter what, any driver who really wants to use a phone in any way while driving is going to do so, whether or not its legal... ...they will just become more dangerous drivers as they take their eyes even further off the road while hiding their mobile device further out of the eyeshot of others... A stricter law is only good if it is thoroughly enforced at all times, with no exceptions to anyone of any age, gender, or race. A driver is a driver is a driver who could easily become a weapon on wheels.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:56 a.m.

The technology exists to stop cell phones from operating if the phone is traveling above a designated speed. Yes I know that passengers will be affected, yes I know that there will be some emergencies that will override this edict. But, a law could be written such that a crash with a phone operating in the speed override setting would be a felony and mandatory loss of license for 1 year. Your insurance company would be happy to reward you for signing up for this program. If Oprah would ask drivers to sound their horns around such distracted drivers untl they hang up. this problem would go away overnite.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 11:59 p.m.

Gotta see the video I saw that pretty much summed it up. WISD showed it. The guy in the backseat said any distraction is a killer. This includes. radios, cell phones, something dropped, a bird flies into the windshield. Anything. Keeping the radio off, cell phones off, text machines off can really reduce the number of accidents on the road. I think it is worse today then it was 10 years ago.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 11:29 p.m.

great next step is to ban cell phones while driving. yes i do it but think to many of us should stop. i have seen lots of people slowing down to talk. just to much chance. so i would be one of those whom would have to stop.

Local Cat

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 11:15 p.m.

Commercial truck drivers cannot talk on cell phones without a hands free device either. Funny how professional drivers are put in the same category as inexperienced drivers. This law should apply to all.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : midnight

All school bus and public bus drivers are barred from this as well. It is immediate termination. No questions asked. This includes getting pulled over for DUI.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 10:53 p.m.

I see more older people talking and texting than I do teens.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

maybe because there are more older people on the road


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 10:36 p.m.

I hope there no unintended consequences. Rather than talk on their cells, which would be visible to those outside the car, as of Thursday teens may be more likely to hold their cells down low and text instead.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:40 p.m.

Ben, I think its usefulness comes into play primarily when an accident occurs. By examining phone records, police can determine if texting was occurring at the time of the accident. For example, they made that determination a couple of years ago (I think) when a mother of 4 was killed in an accident on Wagner Rd., texting while driving. Actually, it was off Wagner Rd. - she drove off the road while texting.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:21 p.m.

It's illegal in MI to text and drive. But I doubt they actually charge many people with it. Seems like it would be hard for the cop to tell.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:46 a.m.

I thought it was already illegal for anyone to text while driving in ann arbor? Of course I see people doing it all the time so maybe I'm wrong..

Gary Schwartz

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 9:59 p.m.

Everyone PAY ATTENTION: If you or your child is involved in a crash having major property damage or serious injury while on the cell phone, be prepared to spend big $$$ because your cell phone record will speak loudly in court.

Silly Sally

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

good point

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 9:58 p.m.

I've talked about this issue on my radio show extensively the past few years. One thing to note: Research has shown that hands-free calls in cars are also dangerous - both more-so than talking to someone in the car. The problem is that the person on the other end of the call is not privy to the visual information that the driver is. When you are talking to someone in the car with you, they can see some of the same things you see and moderate conversation, and respond to problems, accordingly. Someone on the other end of a call does not have that benefit.

Silly Sally

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:46 a.m.

Exactly, that is what I was saying in my posting at the start. I even have had passengers interrupt me with useful warnings.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 9:10 p.m.

Here is a link to the State Police website referencing the distracted driving law that covers all Michigan drivers. From the site it lists these as distracted driving activities: Using a cell phone and/or texting Eating and drinking Talking to passengers Grooming Reading, including maps Using a PDA or navigation system Watching a video Changing the radio station, CD, or MP3 player.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:20 p.m.

It doesn't seem to indicate that any of those activities are actually illegal or grounds for a ticket, though, right? Looks like it's just the fine for texting.

Silly Sally

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:44 a.m.

How many times has the Ann Arbor Police issued tickets for this in the past year? None, I'd bet, none. They rather sit at speed traps on Sunday mornings outsude Pioneer High School at 9:30 AM looking for those exceeding 35! OMG! Or on State St at teh same time in front of the car dealers. Or Huron Parkway north of Barnes and Nobel Book Store..


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 9 p.m.

Should have made across the board for everyone with a $150.00 fine, that would of helped the State for some road repairs.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 8:59 p.m.

This law is toothless. A civil infraction? "OOPS, sorry I hit and killed you while I was on my phone! Where's my ticket?" If you want a law like this to have meaning, make it a misdemeanor and delay any issuance of a license for a year per infraction. Make death associated with a minor's use of a cellphone a felony. Otherwise, this law makes talking on your cellphone while driving as an L1 or L2 driver as lawless as spitting on the sidewalk.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

a2citizen: Why it is that people come on to threads like this and ask questions that have answers that can be found independently with a minimum of effort is beyond me. Is there anything else I can help you with?


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 10:49 p.m.

"...a felony...." What's the penalty for swinging a crutch?


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

Just another totally unenforceable law on the books ...good luck with this one too....


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:49 p.m.

I don't get it. Younger drivers have better eyesight and quicker reflexes yet they are not allowed to hold a phone in one hand yet us older drivers in poorer physical shape are ? Why not just ban ALL drivers from using hand held phones like they do in Canada ?

Silly Sally

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:40 a.m.

Eyesight is easily corrected by glasses, except for night vision. Reflexes are not much different. But after years of experience, I can easily anticipate what other drivers will do far ahead of tme and other things. When I was college or high school age, I did not do this nearly as much. This includes anticipating where cops may be hiding, or when a car might suddenly pull out, or a child might dart out. I'm still learning, too.

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 9:44 p.m.

I would suspect that some of the reasoning would be tied to older drivers having more experience on the road, plus there already is the distracted driving law in Michigan as I referenced below. Some in-state municipalities, like Troy have added another layer of laws giving more power to their safety departments to enforce distracted driving laws, so what I see this law being is a similar method that will train drivers early on to not use their phones while driving so when they become more experienced on the road it won't be an issue. Bad habits are hard to break and if speeds limits can teach us anything, it's that the enforcement of these laws are no easy task, and drivers will still find ways to be distracted behind the wheel. Honestly, the only way I see behind-the-wheel phone use decreasing drastically would be to enact steep penalties. Even then, like drunk driving laws, you would have drivers taking the risk.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:26 p.m.

Better tell Mom! If i have my learner's permit, i have to have my adult with me, so hopefully Mom will tell me not to text whilst i am driving her around!.......

Basic Bob

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

my dad used to drink beer while being the responsible adult


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:24 p.m.

No texting, no talking, period. Why can you pretty much lose your entire life for a DUI, but texting or talking are still a slap on the wrist, or totally acceptable?


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.

This law should also be for adults and not just for teens. People who drive and talk with their cell phones up to their ears are all over the road, slow down and then speed up, and often fail to signal when changing lanes or making a turn. I'd like to see it passed for everyone to either use a hands free or get a ticket!

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 9:57 p.m.

I recently made the commitment to avoid the temptation to glance at my phone every time it pings when I'm driving. I will occasionally talk on the phone while behind the wheel, but that is rare and only for specific situations like calling to let someone know I'll be late (vs texting them). Despite this, I'll admit I still rely on my phone for music quite regularly so that has become more of the visual distraction when driving.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:51 p.m.

Yep, expect many folks often don't mind new laws, so long as it doesn't apply to them.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:31 p.m.

Hands-free use appears to be no better. See

Linda Peck

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 6:33 p.m.

I would think a common sense law should apply to all drivers. Where has all of the common sense gone?


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 10:03 p.m.

The sad truth is that common sense is not as common as many believe it to be.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

While I appreciate the effort, I'm not really sure how much impact this is going to have. Just because it's "banned" doesn't mean people will stop doing it. And why is this only for teenagers? Are accomplished drivers capable of talking or texting because they're adults?


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:53 p.m.

I don't know, as an adult I feel my driving skills are not as good as when I was 20 years old. Then again I was on the road full time for 4 years by the time I was 20 years old. Today, 20 year olds are still learning how to drive. No wounder many folks drive so poorly as adults.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

I see pointing out's grammatical errors is grounds for comment deletions. Well, looks like half of the daily comments will be deleted from now on, lol


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 11:32 p.m.

Kyle- Well, I knew it couldn't have been me making light of this proposed legislation, since almost every comment on here is doing that too. Point taken

Kyle Mattson

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 9:50 p.m.

Hi Squirrel- To keep this rabbit trail short, DBH is correct. Although we do welcome reader to point out small typos here and there the comments aren't really the place to start a conversation regarding word choice. Feel free to email the reporter directly in the future with and future catches and they'll take a look into updating the story if needed.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 9:07 p.m.

You can check with if you like, but I doubt the reason your comment was deleted was due to a grammar issue, and I think you know that. Use common sense (apparently uncommon for some people) when making a comment involving someone's tragic death. However valid your point about when vs. while (and it's a subtle point for some writers) in the sentence to which you referred in your original comment, you were out of line when you sarcastically concluded the death was caused "by" the cellphone, seemingly ignoring the fact that this was a girl who was someone's daughter, someone's friend, someone who died tragically and whose death has motivated her mother to nobly advocate on behalf of the law about to take effect on Thursday. Rise above petty concerns and be more circumspect when posting.

Usual Suspect

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 8:24 p.m.

You're right. If they let us do that, the comment sections would get way out of hand.

Usual Suspect

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

I'd like a law ending the practice of giving laws names like, "Thisperson's Law" and "Thatperson's Law."


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 6:46 p.m.

Can we name it after you? I completely agree, by the way.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:49 p.m.

As long as I can continue to pick my nose, eat my big mac, admire myself in my rear view mirror, and steer with my knees, I'm okay with this law.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:22 a.m.

Don't forget to put on your makeup!

Local Cat

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 10:58 p.m.

How can you admire yourself in a mirror after picking your nose and eating a big mac? That's just nasty!

Usual Suspect

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:58 p.m.

... with a poodle on your lap.

Dog Guy

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:43 p.m.

You can't do two things at once, and one of them is driving.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:41 p.m.

The problem is called inattentional blindness, and no one is immune, including those of you on this site who think "you" are the exception. See for an abstract of a revealing experiment demonstrating this "blindness" with a cellphone. And if you still think you can handle both tasks simultaneously (driving and talking on a cellphone), consider the words of the physicist, Richard Feynman: "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool."


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:50 p.m.

Surely you're joking - Personally, even as smart as he was, I think Richard Feynman did a lot of fooling himself.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:59 a.m.

@Billy, you may have a valid point BUT, Have you ever considered the fault may also lie with you and or yours? Yes you may not have caused the accidents but, Consider how much more you could have done avoiding the accidents other people caused had you been more aware of surroundings and not tuned into just the road and your phone.. (DEFENSIVE DRIVING) I'm not saying this is what happened in your cases but think about all the people who say yep I've done it I do it, it doesn't affect me.. I'm sorry but yes it it does.. it distracts you from defensive driving. You may be able to handle talking on it while driving but really how are your reaction times while "defensive" driving if your focused on one extra unneeded thing while driving. I'd like to see the study on that.. FFS if its that important of a call pull over, period. Have your conversation and go on your merry way. Thats the problem, too many of you think oh I'm not the problem and I'm not the one distracted, when in reality you are too distracted to notice you are..


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 11:57 p.m.

@Billy, I refer you back to Feynman's quote. Ignore it at your peril (and anyone else's who might be in your way when the time comes). I also believe you may be a victim of confirmation bias. See


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 11:42 p.m.

Why would we consider words from a physicist when it comes to driving behavior? Sounds...kind of...weird, lol


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 11:33 p.m.

Actually sir...I can talk on a cellphone and still perform complex tasks. Just because you can't...or other people can't...or they did a little study where they tested people who couldn't....does not mean I cannot. I looked at your referenced "study." 30% of people NORMALLY are "inattentively blind" and the number rose to 90% when they were given cellphones....still not 100%. Guess I'm in that 10% and you're it arrogant all you's not arrogant to KNOW your limitations and abilities and to stay within them. I KNOW I can talk on a cellphone and drive...I've been doing it for almost 20 years now...I had a 1st generation motorola flip cellphone. And I have NEVER had an accident due to "inattentiveness" on my part....not even close in fact. Now all that said....I never said I was against this law. In fact I support most of these laws that ban using a cellphone while driving....BECAUSE I'M AWARE THAT MOST PEOPLE CAN'T DO THIS. I'd like to point out though....that the PROBLEM is NOT the cellphone....the PROBLEM is INEPT DRIVERS....period. We do all this stupid finger pointing....and the ONLY person at fault in a car "accident" is the person that did the wrong thing. The person that couldn't maintain control of their vehicle. INEPTITUDE. I've had multiple cars of mine wrecked....100% not my fault, and due to someone ELSE being an inept driver. My mother's car was wrecked by an inept driver. My wifes car was an inept driver. I go back and think about ALL car accidents that I can remember...mine, other people, ones in the news. Do you know what the cause of EVERY SINGLE ONE of those accidents is? An inept driver. Someone who couldn't control their vehicle and probably shouldn't have been allowed to drive in the first place. Driving is treated like an entitlement in this country. That is why there are so many terrible drivers on the road.

Jaime Magiera

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 10:01 p.m.

Bonus points for quoting Feynman :)

you can't handle the truth

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 4:44 p.m.

As much as I hate to say it, it is probably time to extend this beyond just kids. Unfortunately, like DUI laws, there are some idiots out there who just can't handle it, so it is time to just crack down on everyone.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:59 p.m.

@M, fascists and dictators may issue rallying cries, but I very much doubt "legislate" would be one of them. They favor edicts and appeals to base emotions, not the legislative process.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:16 p.m.

@ychtt - "Some people can't do something, so legislate" is the rallying cry of fascists and dictators.

you can't handle the truth

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:12 p.m.

Well, I am able to have a couple drinks at dinner and manage to not flip my car over on Main Street. Much like I am able to briefly talk on a phone on an as needed basis safely without crossing medians. But a lot of people aren't able to do that, hence the need for across the board laws.

Silly Sally

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 4:51 p.m.

So, some, you?, can hold your liquor?

Bertha Venation

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 4:38 p.m.

Too bad it's not for ALL driver's licenses. I see supposedly "Intelligent adults" texting, talking on the phone and not paying attention. Sometimes, I think they're worse than the kids.... Where do you think the kids learn it from? (IMHO)


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2:37 a.m.

I completely agree. In my personal experience (close call ones, which has been many ) It has always been an adult in their 20's to even older adults maybe late 60's (although they seem to be more overly cautious with the cells and not know what to do when it comes to a simple 2way stop sign lol I can deal with those) It's still a major issue. It should not be restricted to young drivers, It should be all drivers. You get way to many of these people that say oh it doesn't distract me, I can multi-task, and those are the majority of the problem. They think they are doing a fine job not realizing how much of a problem they are causing (because they are so distracted with their phone calls) and yes this is directed at the earlier self righteous posters on other comments who think they are fine to chat/text while driving. @Silly Sally I agree too with your post. I refuse to drive downtown Ann arbor because of all the students walking out in front of vehicles thinking they can or will stop to give them right a way..


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

The law should prohibit anyone of any age from using a cell phone while driving. As anyone who has ever been behind an erratic driver can attest, 99% of the time, you discover that driver entering a phone number or texting while driving. To restrict the law to young drivers only is just ridiculous.

Silly Sally

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:26 a.m.

There go Ann Arbor liberals, wanting silly laws that even they vote not to have their own police enforce, just to make themselves feel good. Oh, so silly indeed! If 10 vote against giving tickets to those who presently text and drive, and 34 others ignored it, how will a new law be any better? Enforce existing laws, do not pass more wothless, feel-good laws. Oh, the nanny state. What is next, a do not want to even ask we might get another cross walk law,

Bob W

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 8:26 p.m.

"Banning cellphones while driving won't fix stupid." You have to start someplace.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:56 p.m.

And then we wounder why young people sometimes laugh at us older folks.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:55 p.m.

Banning cellphones while driving won't fix stupid.

Silly Sally

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 4:48 p.m.

And the Ann Arbor Police do as much about this as they do about jaywalkers that step out into traffic or pedesterians who ignore traffic signals. Enforce existing laws against a "driver entering a phone number or texting while driving"

Silly Sally

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 4:25 p.m.

Even phones built into a vehicle are still distracting. It is the talking, not the device, that is much of the problem. Younger people often do not know when to stop a conversation and to concentrate on driving, I often will ignore the person who I am talking with because something on the road needs 100% of my attention. Talking to a passenger is different from talking to a person on a phone. Why stop when a person turns 17? Why not 18?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

I can definitely talk on a cell phone and drive well at the same time. My major focus is on the road and I have no problem ignoring the person on the phone. On the other hand, a passenger is a major distraction for me personally. I am not nearly as good of a driver with a passenger in the car. I find if hard to "shut them off" and concentrate on the road. I am accident free and way into middle age, so I have a lot of safe driving experience. But I know my limitations.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

Talking to passengers is just as dangerous b/c a lot of folks will turn their head to look at them while talking instead of keeping their eyes on the road....there's no need to look at someone! I don't and I can do both at the same time. As for looking at a text or a phone number, that's what a stoplight/sign is for. @Blue: You still can't drink or rent a car w/o a hefty price at 18.....this is not an age thing.

Blue Marker

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 6:08 p.m.

Because at 18 you're a legal adult. You can go to war, gamble in Vegas and be sent to prison.


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

"It is the talking, not the device, that is much of the problem." is the ineptitude not the action OR the device that is much of the problem.... People who are incapable of doing two things at once....talking and driving....shouldn't. I...and plenty of people I know...can talk on a phone and drive at the same time. THAT is not the's the people who CAN'T do that, who still do....that are the problem. That said....I ALSO know people who are incapable of chewing gum and BREATHING at the same time...let alone driving and talking...and they still do it...very poorly and dangerously I might add. Don't do stuff outside of your capabilities and there won't be a problem. This applies to near EVERY SINGLE PROBLEM cause by individuals in life.