Iowa House and Senate agree to ban texting while driving
After weeks of discussion and debating, members of a House-Senate committee found a compromise to finally ban texting while driving.
Gov. Chet Culver signed a bill at the beginning of April that prohibits drivers from reading, composing, and sending text messages from all electronic and mobile devices while driving. A few changes had to be done from the original proposition for the bill to be approved. Exemptions were granted for drivers contacting public safety services and emergency service providers. Also, GPS systems do not count as electronic devices in the latest version of the bill.
Teenagers with an instruction permit, restricted license or intermediate license will be banned from all cell phone use while driving, whether they want to talk or text on their phone.
According to Public Safety Commissioner Gene Meyer, the law should raise awareness on the dangers of texting while driving.
“The goal here is to prevent distracted driving, particularly by reading or typing or sending text messages while driving. We in law enforcement will certainly enforce this law, but the real goal is going to be to change the behavior of drivers.”
Violators will be charged with a simple misdemeanor and a $30 fine. If texting is the cause of an accident that results in serious injury or death, penalties increase up to a $1000 fine and 180 day license suspension. It is worth nothing that the new law will be a secondary offense, meaning law enforcement cannot stop or detain a person only for suspected violations of texting.
While the new law takes effect on July 1, 2010, only warnings will be issued in the first year.
Source: Iowa House Press Release; River Cities’s Reader, April 2, 2010