Idaho outlaws texting while driving

idaho capitol buidingText messaging while behind the wheel will no longer be permitted in Idaho as of July 1.

Gov. Butch Otter signed the Legislature’s distracted driving measure April 5. The distracted driving law will receive primary enforcement — police can stop and cite offenders for that reason alone — but offenses are not moving violations. Also, there are no points assessed against the driver’s license.

The fine for texting & driving in Idaho will be $85.

Idaho became the 37th state to outlaw text messaging while driving, following West Virginia by only two days.

West Virginia also banned use of handheld cell phones while driving, but in Idaho a similar plan (from the Senate) was ignored during the legislative session, which officially ended March 29.

A few legislators pointed out that the new law did not adequately cover current technologies.

The successful Senate Bill 1274 focused on texting alone — reading, writing, transmitting — without mention of the many potentially distracted computer functions offered by smartphones such as the iPhone.

House sponsor Rep. Judy Ellsworth, R-Boise, replied during debate: “I do know that teenagers know what texting is, and I believe that this bill will send that message to them.”

Idaho’s Legislature had rejected all distracted driving legislation until now — with infringements on personal liberties often cited — but lawmakers acknowledged that public sentiment has changed.

The death of an 18-year-old Caldwell woman early in the year weighed on the debate. She was texting extensively before rear-ending a semi-trailer truck, and also receiving Facebook communications, police reported. Taylor Sauer’s parents became distracted driving activists.

A AAA Idaho survey of state voters found 87 percent in support of a statewide ban on texting while driving.

Also in 2012, state Sen. Les Bock proposed a prohibition on use of handheld cell phones by all drivers, but that bill failed to advance.

Read the Idaho distracted driving news page.


  1. Al Cinamon says:

    David, your argument is totally absurd. If you love freedom so much maybe we should do away with police altogether (and the fire department too). According to you, if people want to speed, they should be FREE to speed. If they want to smoke in bed and set their house on fire, they should be FREE to do that.

    What you don’t realize is that freedom entails responsibility, too. If you want to use public roadways, you are not FREE to put the rest of us in danger.

    But, that is my whole point. Politicians also want you to be free to engage in risk taking so that you don’t get mad at them and throw them out of office.

  2. David Lapham says:

    I always understood that representatives were elected by the people for the people in order to represent the people. That is why we have elections after all.} If public safety is number one, then lawmakers should cancel elections, set a strictly enforces 30 MPH speed limit, require a 4 point harness and full roll cage in all motor vehicles, ban motorcycles and bicycles on all motor ways…..

    Of course this would be against everything this country is about AKA freedom, but according to you, safety is more important than freedom.

  3. Al Cinamon says:

    I find it interesting that Idaho lawmakers banned texting only because “public sentiment has changed.” That proves what I’ve believed for a long time. Lawmakers will do nothing that might jeopardize their electability. Their power is more important than public safety. That’s why there is always resistance to passing tough driving laws. The public likes to drive fast and take risks so lawmakers don’t want to pass laws that might antagonize their constituents. Shame on them. They’re supposed to lead, not follow.

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