Caldwell Republican Sen. John McGee’s ban on texting while driving calls the action inattentive driving and would make it a misdemeanor punishable with up to 90 days in jail or a $300 fine. McGee, the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee, has said for months that he will put forward a texting ban this session and went through several drafts before deciding to add texting to the current inattentive driving statute. “We’re adjusting the current law to reflect the year 2010 problem of text messaging while driving,” he said.
McGee said it should be clear the kind of activity the ban is trying to prevent or punish. “You’ve seen the person driving down the road on the freeway, looking down at a screen, typing with his or her thumbs, while not looking at the road,” he said. “That’s what we’re targeting.” He said the law wouldn’t apply to people talking on their cell phones or using GPS devices. McGee’s proposed ban defines texting as “engaging in the review of, or preparation and transmission of typed messages via wireless devices.” He said he borrowed that definition from a federal texting ban on commercial vehicle drivers.
Boise Democratic Sen. Les Bock, who also serves on the transportation committee, introduced a similar texting ban that carried a $75 fine. McGee has said that his proposal, not Bock’s, will be the one that goes forward this session.
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