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Cell-phone use while driving would be illegal unless device is hands-free under new bill

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Photo and more below.
That car driving slowly or erratically in front of you? Odds are good the person behind the wheel is talking on a cell phone. But unless the driver is under eighteen, doing so is perfectly legal in Colorado.

Representative Jovan Melton would like to change that. A new Melton-sponsored bill that will be heard in a House committee today would make it illegal for a driver to talk on a cell phone while on the road unless it's a hands-free device.

Get details and see the bill below.

In 2009, the Colorado legislature passed a bill banning texting and driving -- and the measure also prohibited drivers under eighteen from using any cell phone, hands-free or not, while piloting a vehicle.

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Representative Jovan Melton.
No, the bill hasn't eliminated the behavior, or even diminished it in any obvious way. However, Representative Claire Levy, the bill's sponsor, offered a passionate defense of the legislation at the time, and added that she saw the value in making handheld cell-phone use off-limits for drivers over eighteen, too.

The texting ban was controversial, though, with critics dubbing it a piece of nanny-state legislation that was wholly unenforceable. As such, Levy wasn't ready to push a stricter measure in the immediate wake of the legislation becoming law. "I'm realistic enough to know that I need to maybe wait a year before I try again on that," she said.

Considerably more time than that has passed -- but Melton has now taken up the cause with House Bill 14-1225. The entire document is below, but the summary notes that "the bill prohibits an adult from using a wireless telephone for a phone call while driving unless the person uses a hands-free device."

The text adds that "a person cannot be charged with the offense unless either: The person is stopped for another traffic violation, the officer witnesses the violation, and it occurs in a school or construction zone; or the violation was the cause of a traffic accident."

Punishment would consist of a $50 fine for a first offense, with the cost bumped up to $100 for each one thereafter.

Don't expect these edicts to go into effect anytime soon. The bill will die if it fails to make it out of committee, and even if a majority give their approval, there are plenty of pot holes that could swallow it up along the way.

In the meantime, here's the current draft.

House Bill 14-1225

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Politics archive circa December 2009: "Texting while driving: a passionate defense of the new ban."

My Voice Nation Help
27 comments
Bradford Ashington
Bradford Ashington

"Your life and someone else's life is more important than your phone call." not according to self-serving yuppie fucktards and dickheaded suburbanite slobs

Dave LeDoux
Dave LeDoux

Driving is a privilege not a right. It's about fucking time, I don't know how many times I've been cut-off in traffic while on my death machine (aka V MAX). I now open carry when I ride, I will not hesitate to squeeze a round into your vehicle.

Marc Bayes
Marc Bayes

My business revolves around the phone. I'm on it far more than I wish I was. Simple truth, no law will change that. Just gonna have to work harder to pay their fines.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Since hands-free conversations are just as distracting and dangerous as fiddling with a phone, Melton's bill will not improve public safety and should be defeated.

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin

@Brenda- the law won't make people stop doing it . They will just try to be sneaky and be even worse drivers. Then they will get a ticket , then they will be broke , then they will burglarize your house .

John McLaughlin
John McLaughlin

Bullshit! Quit making every fucking thing illegal!!!

Evelyn Maria
Evelyn Maria

About time most other countries already have this law. Strange we are slow to safeguard the public

Brendan Flynn
Brendan Flynn

good. Put the goddamn phone down and fucking drive, losers.

Roni Torres
Roni Torres

Wow David Judd I'm almost shocked you didn't make a racist joke about Asians driving. Good job high five way to beat the ignorance.

Dominic Fante
Dominic Fante

Make any activity illegal, and people will still do it. History has proven this time and time again.

ImNotSmart
ImNotSmart

Finally, a law that I can get behind.

Frank Molina
Frank Molina

Carri Kimbrel, I think that the people that DIE every day take precedence over your "during traffic" activities...I'm sure you're responsible enough not to do it while you're going high speeds, but that doesn't make it any less dangerous. Accidents happen while people are stuck on traffic too...specially if you have to react and you're too comfortable chilling back talking on the phone. Saving some lives is definitely worth you rearranging your schedule a bit. Also...did you read the part about HANDS FREE...you can still talk to whoever you want if you have them on speaker phone. So don't know where you're coming from. ABOUT TIME!

Chad Kay
Chad Kay

A bill funded by the makers of hands free devices possibly?

Carri Kimbrel
Carri Kimbrel

My road rage will get much worse. I talk to my Grandma, Mom, or Sister almost every day while I sit in traffic for an hour. I do this to make the time go by faster and not get so upset by the extremely slow drive home. It is really the only time I talk on my phone in the car..

ting100
ting100

A law never stopped anyone from doing anything. Laws punish, not prevent. This is just something to add to your charges if you cause an accident.

David Judd
David Judd

This should read.. " The car driving slowly or erratically in front of you? Odds are good the person behind the wheel is a woman" Then go on to explain how their bad driving is exponentially worse when on the phone.

Jev Ayala
Jev Ayala

About time! Your full attention should be on the road, period. It is proven that even though your hands may be free from your phone and your eyes on the road, you are still not paying full attention to the road and other drivers around you. Your conversation can wait. Your life and someone else's life is more important than your phone call.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

Woah…unsettling flashbacks to the Chocolate Rain dude!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... or selfish bong-sucking stoners who drive under the influence of marijuana.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase  ... irrational nonsense.


Not everyone has, or will obtain, a hands-free system, so by eliminating and reducing the distractions of those low-grade losers who only have hand-held units, safety will be improved.



DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Carri Kimbrel <== should have license revoked

Monkey
Monkey

What an idiot. Better ban all conversations while driving then, your passenger might distract you by asking a question.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey  ... except that data and reality show that passengers, being in the same driving environment with eyes and ears exposed to the same sensory input of the driver, will modulate their conversation when they perceive danger, often acting as safety co-pilot ... whereas distant parties on cell phones are oblivious to any impending danger / traffic conditions the driver may be facing.


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