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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

Latest ‘lite’ texting-while-driving bill comes up for hearing

The House Transportation Committee is starting its hearing on HB 141, a measure that's kind of a "lite" version of last year's texting-while-driving ban. Rep. Marv Hagedorn, R-Meridian, said he's been working on the measure since last year, when a texting ban was defeated in the House in the session's final hours. "This is a distracted driving bill," Hagedorn told the committee. "Basically, if a person is driving and is using a hand-held device," even if it's an electric toothbrush, and "it distracts them from driving ... an officer can pull them over." He said, "Typically now, an inattentive driving ticket is written after an accident occurs. This will allow the officers to look at distracted behavior, inappropriate behavior while driving, and pull those individuals over."

Here's the new section the bill would add to Idaho's state laws:

49-610. DISTRACTED DRIVING. (1) No person operating a motor vehicle shall use a hand held electronic device that causes such person to be distracted or otherwise fail to exercise due care, as that term is provided for in section 49-615, Idaho Code. This section does not prohibit the use of voice operated or hands free devices that allow the user to review, prepare and transmit a text or voice communication without the use of either hand other than to activate, deactivate or initiate a feature or function or to dial a telephone number.
(2) A violation of the provisions of this section shall be an infraction with a fixed penalty of seventy-five dollars ($75.00).

Said Hagedorn, "This truly is a piece of sausage. I can tell you that AAA is not completely happy, the insurance companies are not completely happy, the sheriffs are not completely happy, I am not completely happy, nor are the local law enforcement folks." But, he said, "This is what we came up with."

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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