Bill description: SB 1064 would expand the authority of law enforcement to issue citations to motorists who use mobile electronic devices while driving and increase fines.
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?
SB 1064 would create a new moving violation for using a mobile device while driving. Current law only prohibits texting while driving. With a few occupational exceptions, SB 1064 would expand that violation to the use of any mobile electronic device, such as a cellphone or tablet, for any purpose.
The current penalty for violating the texting-while-driving statute is an infraction, which carries a fine of $81.50. This includes a fixed penalty of $25 and court costs and law enforcement fees totaling $56.50. The new penalties established under SB 1064 would increase the fixed fine to $50; the fine would increase to $100 for a second offense and $200 for each subsequent offense. If an individual is convicted of the new infraction more than three times within three years of the first conviction, their license could be suspended for up to 90 days.
This new provision could have an especially adverse impact upon the burgeoning car-sharing platforms such as Uber and Lyft. Drivers who are offering their services through these platforms regularly have to use their phones as they pick up passengers, confirm routes, message passengers and do other tasks required of their business. SB 1064 would make it illegal for these drivers to do any of these things. In some cities, such as Boise, these drivers are not allowed to use taxi stalls, which forces the drivers to remain on the road while waiting to pick up a passenger.
Does it violate the principle of equal protection under the law? Examples include laws which discriminate or differentiate based on age, gender, or religion or which apply laws, regulations, rules, or penalties differently based on such characteristics. Conversely, does it restore or protect the principle of equal protection under the law?
SB 1064 would exempt law enforcement officers and public safety or emergency workers from the new law so long as the person is working in the course of their duties. This would create a double standard. While private citizens couldn’t dial a number while driving, a police officer could while operating their cruiser, regardless of who they are calling.