House Bill 77 — Cellphone-ban preemption

Phil Haunschild 2019 House bill ratings

Bill description: HB 77 would prohibit local governments from instituting restrictive hands-free cell phone ordinances for drivers in their jurisdiction.

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Does it directly or indirectly create or increase penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non- violent crimes? Conversely, does it eliminate or decrease penalties for victimless crimes or non-restorative penalties for non-violent crimes?

In the past several years, a number of local governments across the state have enacted ordinances which prohibit drivers from using cell phones. The municipalities with these ordinances currently in effect are Blaine County and the cities of Ketchum, Hailey, Pocatello and Idaho Falls. Sandpoint did implement a hands-free ordinance which has since been repealed.

The ordinances in each local jurisdiction are unique. The exceptions and applications are not uniform across the state. While a driver can use a GPS in Pocatello or Idaho Falls without running afoul of the law, a driver in Blaine County who reaches for a phone to check Google Maps could be pulled over.

In each municipality, anyone who is pulled over could face at least a $100 fine. Those who are pulled over multiple times in Pocatello or Idaho Falls could be charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced with up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

HB 77 would promote uniformity in traffic laws across the state to ensure that travelers are not caught up in inconsistent laws.

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