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Lawmakers close loophole in texting-while-driving law

Published: Tuesday, March 6 2012 4:07 p.m. MST

FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2011 file photo, a phone is held in a car in Brunswick, Maine. Texting while driving increased 50 percent last year and two out of 10 drivers say they've sent text messages or emails while behind the wheel despite a rush by states to ban the practice, the National Traffic Safety Administration said Thursday. (AP Photo/Pat Wellenbach, File)

Pat Wellenbach, AP

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SALT LAKE CITY — Texting while driving is against the law in Utah. But police and local prosecutors say they discovered a loophole that allowed drivers to avoid a citation if they didn't actually send the message.

The Legislature closed the loophole Tuesday with SB98, which has now passed the House and Senate. The law does not apply to voice-operated texting.

House members raised several questions about the bill, which passed 39-32.

"My concerns with the change is there is no way of proving or knowing when I typed that message," said Rep. Fred Cox, R-West Valley City.

Rep. Richard Greenwood, R-Roy, said it's his understanding that law enforcement has the technology to determine when a text message was written.

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, said in many cases there is no way to tell when a message was entered and that the time stamp comes when the text is sent.

"I'd have some troubles with that bill," he said.

SB98 goes to the governor for consideration.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com Twitter: dennisromboy

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