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...]

In Maryland, Jake’s Law approved

Distracted driving victim Jake Owen of Maryland

Deadly distractions won't be tolerated in Maryland. The state's governor signed "Jake's Law" on April 14, bringing closure of a kind to the family of a 5-year-old who died in a 2011 distracted driving crash. The law, which takes effect Oct. 1, means distracted drivers who kill or seriously injure others through their negligence are faced with a year's incarceration and a $5,000 fine. In addition, 12 points will be assessed vs. the driver's license. The driver who slammed into the family car and killed Jake Owen was fined $1,000, convicted of a pair of traffic offenses. He was using … [Read more...]

Calif. court: OK to hold phone for map

Google map app ban in california

California's hand-held cell phone law applies only to drivers who are engaged in a call, an appeals court has ruled. The ruling favored a driver, Steven Spriggs, who was ticketed for checking a map application while stopped in heavy traffic. "Spriggs contends he did not violate the statute because he was not talking on the telephone," the Fifth District Court of Appeal said in a ruling published Feb. 27. "We agree. "Based on the statute's language, its legislative history, and subsequent legislative enactments, we conclude that the statute means what it says -- it prohibits a … [Read more...]