UPDATE: Officer, I’m not texting and driving, I’m updating my Twitter account and driving

I previously discussed a new bill proposed in the legislature that would make it illegal to email and drive and provided an update on a substitute bill that passed the Senate transportation committee. On March 10, 2015, the full Senate passed the bill, which means the bill will now move to the House for consideration.

The new proposed law would make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle “while holding a personal wireless communications device in his or her hand or hands.” In other words, if the phone is your hand, for any purpose, you are violating this law. This is true even if you are using your blue tooth through your vehicle, but speaking into the microphone on your phone. It would also be illegal to enter info into your phone’s navigational program.

The proposed law does not completely eliminate the ability to use the phone for navigational purposes. For instance, the proposed law “does not prohibit the use of a hands-free personal wireless communications device that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such device, or that is physically or electronically integrated into a motor vehicle by which a user engages in communication without the use of either hand; however, this does not preclude the use of either hand to activate, deactivate, or initiate a function of the device.” Pretty confusing, huh? The way I read this, if your phone is blue toothed into your car, you can start your google maps on your phone by touching your phone, with either hand. But if you hold the phone in your hand, or you touch the phone more than is necessary to “activate, deactivate, or initiate a function,” you are violating the law.

The old law specifically stated that a violation shall not become part of your driving record and shall not be made available to insurance companies or employers. The new proposed law eliminates the part about “not become part of your driving record.” So apparently all violations will go on your driving record. The new proposed law directs that a first offense “shall not be made available to insurance companies or employers” (unless you have a commercial driver’s license). So a second offense would be available to insurance companies or employers.
I am concerned about the Department of Licensing’s (DOL) ability to implement the provision above. Under DOL’s rules, insurance companies can get a driving record that dates back three years, and employers can essentially get a complete driving record of a person. If all violations of this law are on your driving record, how is DOL going to make sure that first offenses are not reported to insurance companies or employers? Logistically, this seems very difficult to implement and I’m not sure the Senate even considered this before passing the law. I have emailed the sponsors of the Senate bill (Senators Rivers, Chase, Fain, and Keiser) and will post an update if I get a response.