Category Archives: State Legislation

Utah Punishes Texting While Driving with Prison Sentence

Utah’s law forbidding texting while driving went into effect July 1, 2009, and the punishment for violating the law is the harshest in the country – up to 15 years in prison for offenders. Utah has taken the stance that all drivers are now educated enough about the dangers of texting while driving to classify any such behavior as reckless or negligent driving:

“It’s a willful act,” said Lyle Hillyard, a Republican state senator and a big supporter of the new measure. “If you choose to drink and drive or if you choose to text and drive, you’re assuming the same risk.”

The law and it’s severity are believed to have been so well supported because of an accident that occurred three years ago, and resulted in the deaths of 2 scientists:

Reggie Shaw, a 19-year-old college student working as a house painter, was driving west to work in a Chevrolet Tahoe S.U.V. Approaching him, in a Saturn sedan, was James Furaro, 38, and his passenger, Keith P. O’Dell, 50. The senior scientists were commuting to ATK Launch Systems, where they were helping to design and build rocket boosters.

Mr. Shaw crossed the yellow dividing line on the two-lane road and clipped the Saturn. It spun across the highway and was struck by a pickup truck hauling a trailer filled with two tons of horseshoes and related equipment.

The two scientists were killed instantly.

…a witness told the police he had seen Mr. Shaw swerving several times just before the accident, raising Mr. Rindlisbacher’s suspicions. The trooper’s concerns grew as he drove Mr. Shaw to the hospital. He saw Mr. Shaw, in the passenger seat, pull out his phone and start texting.“Were you texting while you were driving?” Mr. Rindlisbacher recalled asking.

“No,” he recalled Mr. Shaw responding. (Mr. Shaw said he did not remember the conversation or much about the accident.)

The trooper was deeply skeptical. He figured out how to subpoena Mr. Shaw’s phone records. Six months later, with help from a state public safety investigator, they got the records and their proof: Mr. Shaw and his girlfriend had sent 11 text messages to each other in the 30 minutes before the crash, the last one at 6:47 a.m., a minute before Mr. Shaw called 911. Investigators concluded he sent that last text when he crossed the yellow line.

Read the full article here.

Paterson signs texting-while-driving ban

Gov. David Paterson announced Thursday that he signed legislation to ban text-messaging while driving, a practice that has led to deadly automobile accidents involving teens in recent years.

“The risks associated with texting while driving are well documented,” he said in a statement. “As we learn more and more about just how dangerous this practice can be, I urge all New Yorkers to drive with caution and get in the habit of putting their cell phones away while driving to protect their own lives and the lives of others.”

Under the law that prohibits texting while behind the wheel, drivers will only receive fines for using portable electronic devices if they are pulled over for violating another law. The maximum fine is $150.

Seventeen states – not including New York – and the District of Columbia have laws that prohibit texting while driving, although several do not take effect until later in the year, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Nine states ban the practice for new drivers.

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Austin council paves way for ban on texting while driving

The Austin City Council on Thursday approved a resolution directing city staff to create an ordinance banning texting while driving in the city limits.

Beyond texting, the measure would prohibit drivers from checking email or viewing the Internet on their mobile phones or other portable electronic devices.

A new state law that takes effect on Sept. 1 already bans drivers from talking on their cell phones or texting while in school zones.

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New Missouri law bans texting for drivers under 21

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri’s ban on texting-while-driving kicks in Friday for motorists younger than 21.

The new law puts Missouri in the company of 22 other states with sort of ban on sending, reading or writing text messages while driving.

But the state Department of Transportation says only Missouri is singling out a particular age group.

The fine for texting-while-driving will be $200, but only if a driver is under 21. Older drivers can keep texting as they drive.

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Gov Pat Quinn Signs Ban

This month Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law a ban on texting and driving. It’s a welcome measure. The law allows police to stop and ticket drivers for sending text messages. The fine would range from $75 to $500. Because distracted driving is a moving violation, the ticket would go on the driver’s record.

So far, 14 other states have passed similar bans.

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Texting While Driving Could Spell Trouble

Brittany Morelli, a junior at Ashland University, admits she uses her BlackBerry while driving.

“Well, I don’t do it all the time, but if there are no other cars around me or I’m at a stop sign, then I will send a text message or respond to an e-mail,” she said.

If one Ohio lawmaker’s plan goes through, Morelli could be cited for her actions.

Earlier this month, State Rep. Michael DeBose, D-Cleveland, introduced two bills that would prohibit using a cell phone while driving; one is for talking on the phone, the second is for texting.

Read the full article here.

Officials suggest bans won’t stop at texting

A new article in the Concord Monitor discusses official concerns that new laws won’t stop drivers from texting – but perhaps the dramatic statistics will:

Cell phone use is a factor in an estimated 342,000 auto accident injuries and costs $43 billion each year in property damage, lost wages, medical bills and loss of life

Read the full article here.

Utah Department of Transportation Promotes DVD Documentary

Local Cops Back [Ohio] No-Texting Law

“People continue to drink and drive, so certainly people will continue to text and drive,” Barrington Police Det. Sgt. Kevin Croke said, “but you want to get the awareness out there as much as possible. Anything we can do to achieve safer roads is a good thing.”

Read the full article here.

Quinn to sign texting ban bill

Governor Pat Quinn is expected sign a bill into law Thursday that bans texting while driving.Illinois motorists caught texting, downloading ring tones or surfing the internet could be ticketed by police.

Drivers can text if they’re parked on the shoulder of a road or their vehicle is in park while stuck in traffic.

Illinois is the 14th state, along with the District of Columbia, to ban texting while driving.

Read the full article here.