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Cell phone ban remains whole

Post by Jordan Schrader / The News Tribune on Feb. 24, 2010 at 6:30 pm with No Comments »
February 25, 2010 9:08 am

The proposed cell phone ban for drivers weaved around an attempt to dilute it today in the House Transportation Committee.

Rep. Dan Roach proposed eliminating the part of the bill that allows police to pull people over for talking on a handheld phone while driving. Drivers now can’t be ticketed for phone use unless they have been pulled over for another violation, like speeding.

Roach said a cell phone conversation is no different from talking to a passenger, eating or putting on lipstick, all of which are legal.

The committee rejected the amendment on a voice vote, then moved the bill on, voting to make it a primary offense to hold a phone to one’s ear or send a text message while driving.

The bill allows speaker phones to be used, which Rep. Mike Armstrong said is confusing. “I have concerns about what a speaker phone usage is. If it’s on speaker phone, do you have to have it six inches from your ear, or on your lap, or on the seat next to you? I’m not real clear on that. I know law enforcement’s not.”

But Rep. Geoff Simpson said it would reduce danger on the roads. “It will increase public safety if we tell people to put down their damn cell phone and drive.”

UPDATED with video

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