A proposal that would make it easier for police to cite motorists they see texting while driving is ready to be heard by the full House.
The State Affairs Committee on Thursday unanimously backed a measure (HB 107) that would shift texting while driving from a “secondary” offense to a “primary” offense. Currently, police can only cite motorists for texting behind the wheel if they are pulled over for other reasons.
By making it a primary offense, police could pull over motorists for texting while driving. Last year, the House approved a similar proposal, which did not advance in the Senate amid concerns about issues such as racial profiling.
The House proposal this year would require law-enforcement officers to record the race and ethnicity of people who receive citations for texting while driving, a requirement that is not in the Senate version (SB 76). The Senate bill has cleared three committees and is next slated to go to the Rules Committee.
The Senate proposal would lead to a public-awareness campaign, with warnings being handed out to violators from Oct. 1 through the end of the year, at which time citations would start to be issued. The ban on texting and driving as a secondary offense was approved in 2013 but has faced criticism from traffic-safety advocates who say it should be a primary offense.
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