House puts the brakes on texting while driving

The House declared texting while driving illegal for drivers of all ages, voting 134-31 in favor of HB 938.

The bill by Rep. Allen Peake (R-Macon) makes it illegal to text while driving, but will not affect drivers’ right to use navigation devices, even if they are hand-held.

The bill as originally written only applied to teen drivers but an amendment extended the ban to drivers of all ages.

“I realize there are various positions held about this ban,” Peake said. ” I respect those strongly held beliefs. My hope is you’ll give strong consideration to the one fact, that is the bottom line on this issue, and that is that this legislation will save lives.”

But other lawmakers, including Rep. Kevin Levitas (D-Atlanta) and Rep. Steve Davis (R-McDonough) argued that the bill criminalizes a common practice and that driving while distracted is already illegal.

Teens under 18 would also be banned from talking on a cell phone while driving.

The bill must still pass the Senate.

64 comments Add your comment

SamInAtlanta

March 26th, 2010
10:46 pm

First…what about hand-held talking while driving? Take it the necessary extra step

Huckleberry

March 26th, 2010
10:47 pm

Maybe these moves wouldn’t be as retarded as they are if the same elected dopes would kindly give us some decent alternatives to having to drive everywhere in Atlanta metro. Sidewalks? Rail on 316 corridor? North-south bus lines in Gwinnett? Lovejoy commuter rail? Yeah, I know, it ain’t gonna happen. We citizens have to spend so much time in our cars because these jerks buddied up to DOT contractors for more lanes, more lanes, more lanes.

SamInAtlanta

March 26th, 2010
10:49 pm

Huck, if you spend so much time in your car why not try hands free talking…blue tooth is not that hard.

tom

March 26th, 2010
10:49 pm

First will the police enforce the law and if a ticket is written, is it the police officer’s word against the driver who takes this to court and denies it. Where is the proof? Great law. Just concerned about the legal angles that could come about.

DgInDville

March 26th, 2010
11:05 pm

It remains to be seen if or how this law would be enforced. But one thing is for sure, the law will bring attention to an ever growing problem.

GaRepub

March 26th, 2010
11:05 pm

Law works great in CA. You cannot drive and talk or text on cell phone. If you talk, you must use a hands-free device. I think this is great!

AtlantaPhotog

March 26th, 2010
11:07 pm

It said some of the Reps opposed it by saying, “argued that the bill criminalizes a common practice…”. What? Well, drinking, smoking pot, and getting frisky with yourself are also “common practices”, but you don’t want people doing them while they’re behind the wheel of a car! DUH – what stupidity!

And yes, they should have upped it a notch and banned holding a phone to your ear as well, making bluetooth or speaker device mandatory. Just yesterday some chick in a sports car came within inches of plowing into the back of me at a stop light because she was yacking away with the phone at her head and didn’t see me at the last minute. By my count, that’s the ELEVENTH time in one year I’ve noticed people almost hit me because they were talking or texting while driving. This needs to stop.

GaRepub

March 26th, 2010
11:08 pm

In CA the fine is very strict. The harsher the fine the less people will violate this law.

reallygroovy7777

March 26th, 2010
11:11 pm

its about time they got it right, people are dying on roads it happens all the time.

Free food in lobby

March 26th, 2010
11:15 pm

Very good law.needs higher fine for violations.

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Rick in Grayson

March 26th, 2010
11:33 pm

The police should subpoena the phone records after noting the time of the infraction in their notes/ticket. If the offender was using their phone while driving (texting or not), that qualifies as “driving while distracted” and the fine should be substantial enough to make that person want to stop that practice. Even talking while driving (bluetooth or not) has been shown in studies to be as dangerous as driving under the influence. Bluetooth might free one hand, but it does not free the “brain”…if some of those offenders even have one.

SamInAtlanta

March 26th, 2010
11:51 pm

…and for crying out loud, can someone please explain to me what a “donkey punch” is?!? Thanks.

three jack

March 27th, 2010
12:26 am

so let’s see…ga drivers can put on makeup, listen to ipod with ear speakers, play with a gps device, shave, smoke and talk on a cell phone, but the line is crossed if a ga drive dares to text.

thanks gop for decreasing the size, scope and influence of government…oh wait, they didn’t…again. what a ridiculous law during a budget crunch…focus boys and girls, focus.

Donkey Punch King

March 27th, 2010
12:53 am

LOL. Sam I don’t think you REALLY want to know what a donkey punch is. This is a good time to test your google search.

bake

March 27th, 2010
12:55 am

i like it. hell my wife is 37 and she can’t talk and drive well in my opinion…let alone text. i see too many people trying to both drive and/or text and doing neither well while also ruining their driving. we really need to make driving a priveledge. fine the hell out of folks who talk or text unless they are hands free. it’s just not worth it. i made my wife take the no cell phone pledge. and she gets it. we all lived just fine before cell phones so let’s jump on this bandwagon…it’s going to save a lot of lives!!!

Not Going To Use My Usual Name

March 27th, 2010
1:12 am

Well, thank goodness I can still use the GPS.

Concerned driver

March 27th, 2010
1:13 am

Please ban talking also unless hands free….

tigger

March 27th, 2010
1:30 am

Does the ban apply to law enforcement officers? Why or why not? Don’t you think it should?

dawgjammin

March 27th, 2010
2:16 am

how about putting on makeup while driving, using electric razors, eating a chickfila biscuit, changing out a cd, scrolling through an ipod, yelling at the kids in the back seat… you can’t make one illegal with out getting rid of all of them… this needs to be called the 10 n 2 law, as in if the drivers hands are anywhere besides 10 n 2 then you get a ticket….hey revenue from tickets will help the state and local governments…..this is ridiculous.

GaLiberal

March 27th, 2010
5:08 am

Typical of the republiNazis to preach personal responsibility then enact all kinds of new laws. Of course, they carve out exceptions like using a hand-held GPS even though you have to enter text into these devices just like when text messaging. These devices are just as distracting so why the exception? What about sucking down a Big Gulp? Or putting on makeup as we’ve all seen some women (and men) doing as they rocket down 75/85/285 at 75+ mph. I think it’s time to ban anything that distracts from the task of driving which includes car stereos and MP3 players. If not, then the republiNazis are not really serious about distracted driving and are only playing to the voters.

World traveler

March 27th, 2010
5:21 am

Driving and talking or texting on a cell phone has been prohibited in Europe for 2 decades and banned on U.S. military installations since 2001. In Italy either one carries a 1000 Euro ($1400) fine and license suspension for 30 days. It gets progressively worse from there.

johnnymundane

March 27th, 2010
5:31 am

talking on a hand-held phone while driving is deadly; never mind sending or reading texts. The readiness of drivers to talk on the phone while driving is a perfect example of just how easily we can slip into behaviour we know is wrong – even immoral – because everyone’s a teenager now and has this pressing urge to yak to everyone about the most trivial crap. Grow up, everybody – that would certainly save lives.

stephanisat

March 27th, 2010
6:33 am

GaLiberal, there really is no need to call people names. It distracts from your argument. While you see a contradiction between the Republican Party’s beliefs on personal responsibility and enacting all kinds of new laws, I think you have missed the point on this one. The roads we all drive on are open to the public, which means that I do not have the right to drive around like a maniac endangering the lives, and therefore rights, of the other drivers. As for your “playing to the voters” comment, yes, a large number of constituents have voiced loudly their desire for a texting ban. In this case, the elected representatives seemed to listen. In this case, no one benefited monetarily or otherwise, except that fewer accidents may occur, so this truly is not a case of pandering as you have implied.

ATL driver

March 27th, 2010
6:39 am

This week I followed a police officer down Peachtree Road who was typing and reading his computer for at least 5 minutes while driving. These laws MUST apply to them as well. Police officers are already distracted – especially in during this low tax/economic period where they are required to write more tickets. Hummmm…..maybe this is another way for them to just fine us to make money for the county.

It is a good law and idea – I just wish we could trust the people who are being asked to enforce it.

Double Standard

March 27th, 2010
6:54 am

Sure . .. Republicans are all fired up about the Health Care Bill screaming communism and socialism because they think their life will be controlled BUT they do not see this bill in the same light . . . is not this bill an attempt to control someone’s habits and practices?

Too Broke for Both

March 27th, 2010
6:57 am

What about people who use their cell phone as their GPS device? I cannot afford a separate device and while I enter the address of where I’m going before I get on the road, I often have to tap the cell phone to adjust the image a couple of time on the trip. It’s the equivalent of someone reading written directions on her way to a party, but how would an officer be able to tell the difference between me doing that and me texting?

tax payer

March 27th, 2010
7:06 am

The law makes sense but in the future if you are going to ban talking on a cell without a handsfree device, (i always use a bluetooth ear piece) the the ban should also include: BigMacs, make up and cigarettes.

To double standard

March 27th, 2010
7:10 am

The difference here is: if you don’t like the law, don’t drive. If this were the health care bill, you would be forced to drive by law and I would paying for your gas!

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TrafficHeadache

March 27th, 2010
7:31 am

I’m for the bill. Those against it obviously feel they have some pre-emptive entitlement to drive while distracted by texting (or any such manner) or their “rights are being violated.” Jeez, grow up.

Nativebird

March 27th, 2010
7:58 am

Okay then, they can start by removing every PC laptop in every cop car in Georgia.

Jay

March 27th, 2010
8:03 am

This bill is pointless. Ban people that drive with their dog in the from lap, or put makeup on while driving. Wait… That only women that do these. Ban just women drivers… This is so stupid. I hope it fails

jeff

March 27th, 2010
8:21 am

How can the officers tell when you are texting or dailing someone’s number? If this law pass, alot of people will be falsely accused of texting when they are not.

Jimbo

March 27th, 2010
8:23 am

What about CB radios… How about banning radios in cars…don’t know how many times I have looked down to change the radio station or the AC. Wait a minute…I also have to look down to set my cruise control….Once a again the intent is good but the enforcement is going to be impossible.

EJ

March 27th, 2010
8:46 am

It’s a waste of time and money to try to pass this bill and enforce the law. Sure you can say that Europe banned the practice years ago, but since when do we do everything like that do overseas. The law will be hard to enforce. I would rather cops just start enforcing the laws already on the books.

Winkasdad29

March 27th, 2010
9:17 am

This bill is a good start, but it doesn’t go far enough. I recommend there be no holding cell-phone handsets to your ear while the car is in motion. Hands-free only. If you get caught, the fine is $500. If you cause a collision and it’s your fault, the fine is doubled. Same applies if you are caught speeding while holding the phone to your ear.

The fine for texting while the car is in motion should also be $500. In order to get people to obey the law, you have to make it hurt to break the law.

Winkasdad29

March 27th, 2010
9:23 am

EJ, I’m with you on the police enforcing the laws on the books. If there was blanket enforcement on the interstates here in Atlanta every rush hour period, and every holiday period, the state and its localities would generate additional revenue by writing tickets. That would help some economic bottom lines, and the roads would be much safer. Maybe our auto insurance rates would come dome some.

Winkasdad29

March 27th, 2010
9:24 am

“dome” should be “down”.

Mike

March 27th, 2010
9:41 am

What about all those soccer moms who, whenever they’re in their big SUV’s, thye’ve got to be yakking on a cell phone? Is it a law they have to do this?

dawgjammin

March 27th, 2010
9:50 am

if you ban texting you have to ban, scrolling through an ipod to find a song, you have to ban answering emails via blackberries for the business man, you have to ban applying cosmetics, using an electric razor, putting in cd’s, eating/drinking while driving, coffee, turning to give the kids in the back seat the business. you can’t chose to police 1 thing that’s a distraction inside the car and not touch the other things as well….

a life taken in an accident caused by a texter is worth more than a life taken by someone that spills coffee on themself and causes a deadly accident….me thinks not.

bret floyd

March 27th, 2010
10:07 am

Finally something that makes sense, I agree that texting and or talking on the phone while driving should be illegal. I do have a few problems with some of the other laws that are being passed, such as seat belts. I think this should be a personal choice. I also agree with dawgjammin, the govt, wants to police everything we do, somethings are good and some are not, I say enforce the laws we have and things might just turn around. Why not police people for not using their blinkers, or speeding, even if it is 5 mph over the speed limit? People running red lights, stop signs, and the such. I have noticed that the turn around they installed in our community doesnt help, there isnt anyone that obeys the yeild signs, most dont even slow down, I say install a traffic light.

We have so many laws that are not being enforced, so why not enforce the ones we have before imposing new ones?

m

March 27th, 2010
10:47 am

thank you, bret floyd for bringing those things to attention, that for some reason, cops don’t want to be bothered with. how about actually pulling someone over that doesn’t ‘have their headlights on when it rains? it’s GA law afterall, and a very dangerous one to break. sorry, don’t want to get wet? TS, that’s your job. sometimes i feel like causing an accident just to get my point across. there’s several times i’ve legitimately almost gotten in accidents because people think they don’t have to use their headlights because THEY can see.

anyways, sorry about the rant. but enforce the laws we already have on the books and the politicians quit making it look like y’all are working. we know you’re not, this law is proof…it was a headline grabber at best.

TCBY

March 27th, 2010
10:55 am

Hey “To Doublestandard” – pull your head out of the ground. Who do you think is paying for all the healthcare now? The poor and unfortunate still get medical treatment at the hospital, and they cannot pay the bill. So where does that money come from? Why do you think your hospital, doctor, and insurance costs are so high?

bill

March 27th, 2010
11:28 am

Thank god and include a $1000 fine for not using a headset to talk on a cell phone when driving.

Stormie

March 27th, 2010
11:36 am

This law is incomplete. Cell phone use in a moving vehicle should NOT be allowed. The fine should be HEAVY and people go to a class to learn how to pull over and stop if they NEED to use thier phone. Headsets are not that expensive and are very convienent.

adam

March 27th, 2010
11:37 am

What about the little Hispanic teenagers passing the reefer in their car last night with the cop right behind me , oblivious to what was going on because he was fiddling with his computer in his car !?!?!?!?

Nona

March 27th, 2010
11:39 am

If you talk on your cell phone while driving, you should die a fiery death and burn in Hell and stop making life difficult for others.

That goes DOUBLE for you if you are black or white.

carmikal

March 27th, 2010
11:58 am

What are they, dum or stupid???? How are you going ban texting without banning hand held cell phone usage??

Nona

March 27th, 2010
12:19 pm

Why doesn’t the government pass a law requiring black people to use a turn signal on public roads and interstates like the rest of us?

jaine

March 27th, 2010
1:16 pm

I am very pleased to see this. I admit to having tried to type a text on a cell phone…once…and found myself on the other side of the road almost immediately. Stupid. Can’t say how many times I’ve been on the road and was stunned at the number of cars I met where I did not see the drivers FACE – just the top of their heads as they were looking down at cell phones. What a stupid STUPID WAY TO DIE!!! Or ruin your life forever because YOU have caused an accident/death. A Blue Tooth and Voice Dial is so easy – why type it when you can just say it? I love the cell phone and am thankful for it on long road trips – just think it is just sensible to be responsible with them. Period.

jaine

March 27th, 2010
1:22 pm

my children have been married to the military for quite a few years…so are banned from using phones period on bases – and it has NOT killed them. And re: an above post…what does the use of the hand/arm as a turn signal when needed have to do strictly with black people? What a dumb backwards – unneccesary comment!!!

jaine

March 27th, 2010
1:23 pm

’scuse me – don’t know why I said hand/arm – but the comment still stands. What does that have to do with ANYTHING???

uberVU - social comments

March 27th, 2010
1:24 pm

Social comments and analytics for this post…

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LWells2000

March 27th, 2010
1:55 pm

Why stop with just texting? Research includes the danger of use of any device while driving, including yak-yaking on a cellphone, not just texting. This is too little [and too late for some unlucky statistics victimized by yaking drivers].

Gary

March 27th, 2010
2:11 pm

They should have definitely Banned Holding the PHONE to your EAR while driving as well and made it mandatory that you must own a hands free Blue tooth device. They aren’t that expensive and can be used on a smart phone that uses voice dialing and can be 100% HANDS FREE! Basically no different than talking to a person sitting next to you in the vehicle. Been doing that since last year and it works great! Not hard to do and not complicated and a Hell of alot safer than Holding the phone in my hand and having to look at it constantly or press the buttons! I can tell every time when a driver in front of me is doing that! The all I have to do is look through their rear window and YEP there is the hand pressed against the side of the face! And as usual they are driving like an Idiot!

scott

March 27th, 2010
2:44 pm

for the first time this hillbilly state has did something good!!!next thing good??sonny perdues last day in office he has killed the state of georgia and Atlanta and put it behind Charlotte,Miami,nashville..he has put the state near financial ruin..and the road infrustructure in and around Atlanta has fallen behind..IF ATLANTA GOES DOWN SO DOES THE STATE OF GEORGIA…IF IT WASNT FOR ATLANTA GEORGIA WOULD BE TIED WITH ALABAMA AS THE MOST BACKWARD STATE IN THE COUNTRY..

Justice Enforced

March 27th, 2010
2:49 pm

As a cop of 20 years I do believe that if the police suspect you are texting that would be probable cause to pull you over.
Now here is the interesting part. Since Texting would be a crime and the phone would be how the tool of crime, the police can take your phone as evidence !

Hold on for a second though–before they could prove you were texting the police would need a search warrant to go inside your phone and RETRIEVE THE MESSAGES YOU HAD BEEN SENDING. In this process they would see everything else you had been doing…..stock purchases, fighting with your spouse or partner etc… regardless of when you were doing it, night, day, driving, sitting on your sofa -all of it.

In other words this is yet another action by our government that is intrusive and unconstitutional yet it will be done in the name of our safety.

The good part,
As a cop I know that police departments will never allow officers to put this much time into enforcing this law. If you get a ticket simply plead not guilty. If they access info in your phone, without a search warrant, sue the State and the police department for violating your rights.

Sorry guys but as a cop I am suppose to uphold the constitution of the state not help you violate it—you are violating it with this law and many others !!!

Bobbi

March 27th, 2010
3:09 pm

This is a good start. Its just shameful that people cant even drive and then to talk/text/drive is a skill that unfortunately will never me mastered. I say get those those who put other people’s live in danger.

TooManyLaws

March 27th, 2010
4:08 pm

To the 20 yr policeman who said they may confiscate your phone and look inside it, that is not how to tell if you sent, received or read a text message – you get that information via subpoena from your provider. All the policeman has to do is to ascertain your provider, which as you pointed out, would need a search warrant, unless you voluntarily give it up.
Is web surfing considered “texting”? What about web-mail? I’ll bet the law is written badly so as to allow for any two bit lawyer to get you off on technicalities.

lula Belle

March 27th, 2010
4:19 pm

There is already a law – you can not drive while being distracted. Texting is just one of many distractions. Can we spend our time on things that aren’t already against the law???????

Justice Enforced

March 27th, 2010
5:58 pm

Too many Laws, thanks for your correction

You are right to some degree but in order to give cause for your subpoena, which also has to be approved and signed by a judge, you have to have probable cause to suspect the unlawful act. The mere fact that a person is holding a phone while they drive is not enough reasonable suspicion to establish that they violated the law (you were texting while driving). A cop would also have to show that you were texting at the exact time you were seen with the phone. Since it would be reasonable that all phones have incoming and out going text on them, you may need to get the records to show times. Since all people text at all times of the day and it is legal, you must establish the fact text were actually being sent at THAT TIME in order to GET your subpoena from a judge. Other wise your application for subpoena would say nothing more than that the driver had a phone in their hand and you need the records to establish the fact they were texting. I don’t think that is enough. The reason for the phone records would be to establish the times the text were sent. Not the fact that the defendant sent any text. To establish the fact text were sent (IN ORDER TO GET YOUR SUBPOENA) you need to have access to the actual phone inbox/outbox, the provider and the defendants phone/account number. Since you literally can’t open the phone as a cop, without a search warrant you cannot get this info to get a subpoena (without getting two subpoena’s (one for owner registration and another for text message content. If the phone is owned by another person you would have to obtain the serial # of the actual phone and to do that you also have to physically open the actual phone). In Short you have to establish that the phone had text on it that violate the law to get your subpoena for records. To do that you have to have “cause to believe”. “Cause to believe” has to come by actually opening the phone, since the cop would have to disprove you were not listening to voice mail or some other action that requires you to hold the phone and push buttons. But trust me the first thing a cop will do as he is standing beside your car on the street, is open the phone. He therefore will immediately violate your rights, unless you consent. Once the cop sees that you were texting you will get a ticket but he has violated your rights and he cannot use that info in court–without a search warrant, which he will not have had.

There is no difference in this electronic device (phone) than your computer.

To get your computer (actually take it) a cop has to have a search warrant,unless you give it to him. or he is sitting there while you violate the law with it (and he can see it). He has to get another search warrant to access your hard drive and actually get whatever he is trying to retrieve. He could use other info to subpoena your internet provider but he would only be able to use the fact that your IP address visited the pentagons internal system as cause for the second search warrant. Even then he would have to prove that YOU were the one punching the buttons on your keyboard when your phone or computer was used to violate the law in order to convict you.

This is a very hard and time consuming law to LEGALLY enforce but trust me it will be enforce ILLEGALLY very easily. On top of that you will get fined by Obama because you won;t have a phone to call and buy your mandatory insurance. Just kidding but we give up our rights to easily, it is a lot harder to get them back once they are gone.

LAWENF

March 29th, 2010
10:16 am

Remember the law is trying to stop accidents and your cell phone bill can be checked to verify the time it is being used. So if you are not in an accident, then I wouldn’t worry to much about it. But if you were and an accident and the person who caused ti was texting wouldn’t you want something done??
The police computer is used to run car tags of people they intent to pull over, wouldn’t you want to know if that person was a murderer?

Driver's license and registration

March 31st, 2010
8:16 am

Where do I start? This law is virtually unenforceable. If I see you looking at your phone while driving and pressing buttons this would give me a reason to stop you, but as Justice Enforced points out I would need to get subpoenas and records and times to prove a case. This is just too much leg work to go through when the distracted driving law is much easier to prove. We would end up spend more time and money going after warrants and subpoenas than the fine would be. There are exigent circumstance exceptions to the search warrant rule when it comes to searching vehicles, but this type of search for electronic information that can be retrieved at a later date probably would not fall under that category. There will probably be some new case law made soon after this law is passed. Podunk PD is going to violate your rights if you allow them to, mainly because they do not know the law.

This law should have another component to it that requires a less safe act as a secondary reason to stop the vehicle. I have not read the full law, but I believe our ID10T5 under the Dome got this one wrong.