Revised texting ban driven back to the House

Revised texting ban driven back to the House

by
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
March 30, 2010
Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
Author Image
March 30, 2010

The Idaho Senate continued a back-and-forth with the House of Representatives Monday by approving a House ban on texting while driving that includes some changes.  The Senate amendments are reminiscent of an earlier Senate plan that stalled in the House.

The House version of the texting ban, which imposed infractions of $50 or $100 for texting behind the bill, was weaker than the Senate plan, according to Sen. John McGee, R-Caldwell.  “This is a watered-down version of the bill we sent over several weeks ago,” he said.  McGee said that the changes he added would strengthen the ban by increasing fines when a texting driver causes an injury or property damage.   “I believe it’s a middle of the road approach.”  Drivers who cause damage could face a misdemeanor with penalties of up to 90 days in jail and $500.

McGee said Idaho needs a texting ban.  “I think this is the year that we need to say something about texting while driving,” he said.  “This sends a message, especially to our young people, that you can’t text while you drive.”  MeGee said he was surprised by the number of young people who’ve told him they support the legislation.  “I’ve never seen students come out in support of the bill, and they were out there in droves … The young people of Idaho, who certainly know more about this than I do, say something should be done.”

The Senate approved McGee’s revisions to the texting ban on a 30-4 vote.  Sen. Dean Cameron, R-Rupert, said he thinks the House version, with smaller infractions, might be a more reasonable texting ban.  “I don’t think we want to be charging people a misdemeanor for glancing at their phone,” he said.

“What we’ve got is a fairly balanced approach,” said Sen. Les Bock, D-Boise, who backed a texting ban last year.  “If someone does cause serious injury or damage, the law is going to come down harder.”

The plan heads back to the House, which could take up the legislation before it ends its session.

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