Bill to fine teens for talking on phone while driving fails in Senate

Published: Tuesday, March 12 2013 4:50 p.m. MDT

A bill that would fine minors as much as $50 for talking on the phone while driving failed 11-13 Tuesday in the Senate.

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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would fine minors as much as $50 for talking on the phone while driving failed 11-13 Tuesday in the Senate.

HB103, sponsored by Rep. Lee Perry, R-Perry, would have allowed teens to call in medical emergencies, road hazards or criminal acts, and speak with parents or legal guardians.

Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, said he supports the concept of the bill, but a violation already exists in a broader law.

"The problem is not teens; it's any driver. The problem isn't cellphones; it's anything that distracts you from the road," Thatcher said. "Depending upon the severity of the moving violation, you could lose your license for driving distracted. That legislation already exists."

Sen. Lyle Hillyard, R-Logan, said the bill is more about mentality.

"We shouldn't let the perfect interfere with the good," Hillyard said. "If I am 19 and I get pulled over for using a cellphone, I will be more careful next time, even if I don't get a ticket."

Sen. Wayne Harper, R-Taylorsville, agreed, saying the bill is just one step toward changing teen attitudes in regards to the dangerous habit.

"Studies show that cellphone usage in driving is as serious an infraction as drinking and driving," Harper said. "Such a nominal penalty is a warning, more than anything, to those who are putting other drivers in danger."

Rachel Lowry

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