For a first offense, the proposed penalty would range from $50 to $100 and could include up to 15 hours of community service. LSU Manship School News Service/Allison Kadlubar Rep. Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge, introduced a bill that would impose fines on drivers who hold their phones but don’t text. Allison Kadluba of LSU Manship School News Service Whether or not to impose new penalties for driving while holding a phone, even if the motorist isn’t texting.
The House postponed a vote on the bill, with lawmakers wondering how it would be enforced and whether it would discriminate against the poorest people with the most basic phones. Robby Carter, D-Amite, said the bill targets low-income communities. “It won’t be possible to operate a cell phone in a car that doesn’t have Bluetooth,” Carter said. Bluetooth technology allows hands-free phone use while driving.
The ‘Cell Phone Ban’ Bill would allow law enforcement to issue fines to drivers seen with a phone in hand while driving. “It’s trying to promote safe driving,” said the bill’s author, Rep. Mike Huval, R-Breaux Bridge. The fine would be less than the $175 to $500 for a texting and driving ticket. The new fine would range from $50 to $100 and could include a maximum of 15 hours of community service for a first offense.
Carter mentioned that he doesn’t think “prepaid phones,” a type of phone that has a prepaid number of calling minutes found at local dollar stores, have Bluetooth capability, so people who have these phones would be unable to use them while driving. About 60% of Carter District residents earn less than the median income. This means that someone who cannot afford a phone with Bluetooth would not be able to communicate with another person without holding the phone in their hand. Do you believe this discriminates against the poor who cannot afford Bluetooth or phones with one of the national networks? Carter asked Huval.
“I’m not a fan of voice commands…I prefer the old way of pick it up or hit it,” Rep. Barry Ivey, R-Baton Rouge, said. “There is no prohibition on reaching for the center console of a screen and trying to dial numbers, search for contacts and reply to texts if the functionality is available, is it not ?” Get the latest news from your neighborhood straight away by downloading the new FREE WWL-TV News app now in the IOS App Store or Google Play.
Huval said his bill would not discriminate against anyone, protecting all ages, races and classes. He also said there is an app on phones that will allow voice operation without Bluetooth, but he wasn’t sure if that applied to prepaid phones. Carter described the bill as being more beneficial to people who can afford cars and phones with Bluetooth or Apple CarPlay options. Apple CarPlay allows drivers to use navigation functions, click texts, answer phone calls or change songs via a display screen controlled by voice commands or manually.
Summary of news:
- Fines for simply holding a mobile phone while driving
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