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...]

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...]

Assembly: Hike Calif. cell phone fine

California Assemblyman Jim Frazier

The California Assembly wants to present Gov. Jerry Brown with a new plan to more than double fines for electronic distracted driving. The Assembly approved a bill from Assemblyman Jim Frazier (pictured) that seeks to hike the current fine for handheld cell phone use or texting from $20 to $50. Subsequent fines would be $100 with a point vs. the driver's license. Brown vetoed almost identical legislation in 2011. The sponsor, state Sen. Joe Simitian, tried again in 2012 -- with lesser fines -- but that measure too was axed by Brown. Brown wrote in his 2011 veto message: “For people of … [Read more...]

New Hampshire OKs cell ban

new hampshire state seal

New Hampshire drivers won't be allowed to use handheld cell phones, but they have a while to get used to the idea. Under an act approved by the legislature May 7, the ban goes into effect July 1, 2015. In addition to barring adult drivers from holding their cell phones and talking, drivers under the age of 18 will be barred from all mobile phone use. (That provision takes effect upon enactment of the law.) Fines begin at $100, increase to $250 for second offenses, and then top out at $500. Update: Gov. Maggie Hassan approved the distracted driving measure July 25, saying the new … [Read more...]