Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Hammond: Expect a Texting-While-Driving Bill this Session

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2012 at 9:08 AM

While it failed in the 2010 and 2011 legislative sessions, Republican Sen. James Hammond of Coeur d'Alene is confident that 2012 will show another texting-while-driving bill. Previously, the bills languished at the Capitol building, getting shelved despite a visit from some outspoken teens in 2010.

While Hammond has a bill on the agenda for Thursday, Jan. 19, he says he's filing it—for now. A bill on the House side, possibly co-sponsored by Democrat Sen. Les Bock from Boise, is in the works.

"There’s already a similar texting bill on the House side, and apparently, they feel there’s some degree of opportunity for success for that," said Hammond, chairman of the Senate's Transportation committee.

The bill he's sponsoring, said Hammond, would give a stiff penalty for texting while driving. But after reviewing the text this week, he's not sure if a misdemeanor or a citation is the right approach.

"It was going to make it a misdemeanor, and I wanted it to be a citation," said Hammond. "As a citation, if they see somebody weaving, or following too close, if they were texting, it would be on top of driving too close," he said. "I think that’s a pretty good way to approach it."

However, he's reluctant to say it'll pass this session.

"I may be a little bit Polyannaish about that," said Hammond. "Hopefully, we can create one that’s simple enough that nobody will get tied up in the details."

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