Rhode Island prohibits handheld cell phone use

Rhode Island is joining three of its New England neighbors by adopting a ban on handheld cell phone use. Gov. Gina Raimondo approved state Sen. Susan Sosnowski's distracted driving measure July 10 after it cleared the General Assembly at the end of June. Sosnowski, left, has been trying to get a handheld cell phone ban through the legislature for a decade. The cell phone law takes effect June 1, 2018. The law allows first-time violators a suspension of the $100 (maximum) fine if they show proof of acquiring a hands-free accessory. Serial offenses appear to draw only $100 … [Read more...]

Texas governor OKs ban but targets local laws

The push for a texting ban in Texas finally has ended -- but the debate over distracted driving regulation in the Lone Star State seems sure to continue. Gov. Greg Abbott, left, signed the texting ban into law June 6, after some last-minute fears that he might not. The governor said, however, that he would push for special-session legislation pre-empting stronger local laws, primarily those that restrict use of handheld cell phones. "We don't need a patchwork quilt of regulations that dictate driving practices in Texas," Abbott said. Almost all communities in Texas have some form of … [Read more...]

Texas finally gets a texting & driving ban

The long drive toward a texting & driving ban in Texas has finally ended. Gov. Greg Abbott signed the measure into law June 6, after some last-minute fears that he might not. The governor said, however, that he would push for special-session legislation pre-empting stronger local laws. The ban goes into effect Sept. 1. Rep. Tom Craddick, left, carried the texting bill through the House, while Sen. Judith Zaffirini had the tougher task of pushing it through the Senate, which has been a graveyard for similar measures in past years. The full Senate voted 23-8 to approve the plan May … [Read more...]

Wash. state overhauls distracted driving law

Washington state drivers looking forward to another year and a half of relatively lax distracted driving laws are in for a surprise: Gov. Jay Inslee signed the "Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act" into law, as expected, but not before vetoing the Legislature's enactment date of Jan. 1, 2019. The tougher electronic distracted driving law now goes into effect in mid-July 2017. "We can't wait that long," Inslee said to cheers and applause at the bill signing. The new law doubles fines for repeated violations of texting or other uses of a handheld cell phone. First offenses … [Read more...]

Brown OKs new Calif. distracted driving law

California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a rewrite of the state's distracted driving laws. The act's sponsor, Assemblyman Bill Quirk, celebrated the overhaul of what he called the state's "archaic laws" regarding use of portable electronic devices while driving. Brown, left, who did not comment on the measure, had vetoed several efforts to increase punishments for electronic distracted driving. Quirk's legislation, AB 1785, did not increase penalties. "This bill targets the deadliest cause of distracted driving-related crashes, the use of an electronic device while driving," Quirk said … [Read more...]