4 state distracted driving law changes

state texting ban sign

The distracted driving landscape shifted in four states with the coming of the second half of 2014. In New Mexico and South Dakota, text messaging and driving has been banned for all drivers. In New Jersey, distracted drivers face penalties that go as high as $800 per offense. In Hawaii, fines go to a uniform $250, a significant bump for first offenders who previously paid $100. New Mexico's texting & driving plan sailed through the Legislature earlier in the year, with only five lawmakers opposed in the House and one in the Senate. It was then signed into law by a receptive … [Read more...]

U.S. drivers: Get tough on texting

national safety council logo

Three out of four U.S. drivers support tougher punishments for text messaging and driving, a recent poll suggests. There was little support for the current penalties, which vary widely and are for the most part established by states and municipalities. More than half of those surveyed in the National Safety Council poll backed the use of a point system that would eventually lead to a loss of the driver's license or increased insurance premiums. A majority also backed "large monetary fines" and escalating penalties for serial offenders. "Most people recognize that it will take more than … [Read more...]

Cell phone search warrants needed

high court logo

In a privacy ruling certain to affect distracted driving enforcement, the U.S. Supreme Court says police must have search warrants in order to examine the cell phones of those they arrest. The justices' cell phone ruling of June 25 said: "The police generally may not, without a warrant, search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested." The Fourth Amendment ruling was seen as a pivotal decision in the broad area of digital privacy. It did not specifically address distracted driving cases but clearly would apply to them. Police who seek to … [Read more...]

Vermont gets handheld cell law

Debbie Drewniak text messaging victim

Gov. Peter Shumlin wasn't entirely convinced, but Debbie Drewniak had no doubts as Vermont's handheld cell phone bill was signed into law. Drewniak, pictured, whose life nearly was ended by a teen who was texting and driving, was awarded the pen that Shumlin used to sign the distracted driving measure into law. It goes into effect Oct. 1, with fines ranging from $200 to $500. "This is an example where a governor listens and changes his mind," Shumlin said at the bill June 12 bill signing. The governor said he heard the voices of those Vermont residents who "desperately wanted this … [Read more...]

South Carolina texting ban OK’d

south carolina state flag

South Carolina's long and winding road to a universal texting & driving ban has reached an end. The governor signed off June 9 on a ban that affects all drivers -- but it brings a mere $25 fine. (This report updated June 10 with governor's signature.) Architects of the final plan said they preferred "a carrot" to "a stick" and felt most motorists would comply. The plan cleared the legislature June 4. The House and Senate turned to a conference committee to resolve their differences over a texting law. The House sought a ban affecting all drivers, while the Senate only wanted to … [Read more...]