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...]

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...]

Miss. texting law ambushed, killed

mississippi state flag

A last-minute legislative maneuver derailed a texting & driving ban headed for the desk of Mississippi governor, who had planned to sign it. As a result, Mississippi will remain one of the few states without a complete ban on text messaging while behind the wheel. Both houses of the Legislature approved texting & driving measures. A conference committee resolved differences over the amount of fines to be paid by offenders, and the House and Senate approved the legislation April 1. It was headed to the governor, who said he looked forward to signing the distracted driving legislation "in … [Read more...]

Iowa distracted driving bill dies

Flag of Iowa for texting law post

Iowa won't be seeing an upgrade of its texting & driving law as distracted driving legislation missed a key deadline in the House. The Senate signed off on state Sen. Tod Bowman's SF 2289 on March 11, but the House didn't take action on the plan before the so-called "funnel deadline" of March 14. Bowman blamed House Speaker Kraig Paulsen for not pushing through the distracted driving measure. It is possible but highly unlikely the bill would be resurrected in 2014. Bowman's bill, as amended, targeted most forms of wireless communications by drivers, but not use of cell phones. Iowa … [Read more...]