The first text messaging law of the legislative season comes from Utah, whose governor signed HB 290 on March 25. The Utah ban on texting while driving goes into effect July 1.
Meanwhile, Gov. Timothy Kaine signed Virginia’s text messaging legislation into law on March 30.
Utah and Virginia will be the eighth and ninth states with laws that restrict text messaging while driving. California joined the club Jan. 1.
Mississippi’s Legislature OK’d a ban on text messaging by young motorists this week. It has been sent to Gov. Haley Barbour.
Under the legislation signed by Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., text messaging infractions begin as class C misdemeanors, but become class B misdemeanors if the driver has been convicted of texting while driving in the past three years. The class B infraction also applies if the texting is linked to a serious injury.
Virginia’s texting ban can only result in an infraction if the driver is pulled over for some other reason. Fines start at $20 and peak at $50.
Numerous other state bills regarding texting and driving remain alive for 2009. Almost all limits on cell phone use by drivers are dead or dying.
Legislatures this year gave serious consideration to text messaging bans for drivers, but little to handheld cell phone sanctions.