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Lawmaker proposes statewide ban on cellular telephone use at the same time as driving

BOISE — A bill that could ban handheld cell phone use while riding in Idaho may be heard at the Senate floor.

The invoice from Sen. Jim Rice, a Republican from Caldwell, is the second piece of law to be added this session that would make legal guidelines on cellular telephone use uniform across Idaho. While Idaho already has a statewide ban on texting and riding, a handful of nearby governments around the kingdom — which includes the cities of Ketchum and Hailey and Blaine County itself — have installed place ordinances banning all hand-held cell phone use in the back of the wheel.

Rice’s bill, which handed via the Senate Transportation Committee on a 6-2 vote Tuesday, follows an invoice from Rep. Chad Christensen of Ammon that might void the cellular telephone bans in Blaine County and prevent different nearby governments from passing similar ordinances. Christensen’s invoice has now not but had a hearing within the House Local Government Committee, where it becomes added.

“We’re starting to expand a patchwork in our country of various handsfree device law,” Rice said.

The bill from Rice could ban the use of handheld devices — which includes telephones, tablets, and laptops — whilst using, with some exceptions inclusive of for emergencies, on-obligation law enforcement, and arms-free GPS use. The bill could additionally restrict drivers from driving with headphones or Bluetooth gadgets in multiple ears at a time.

“When we’ve got chaos on the road or dangerous conditions, that genuinely interferes with the number one proper our residents have on the roads,” Rice instructed the committee — that number one right being “the proper to the journey.”

Under the bill, a primary-time culprit would be fined $50, a second-time offender $one hundred, and a 3rd-time perpetrator $200. Repeat offenders with 3 or extra offenses inside 3 years may additionally have their license suspended.

The bill might also void all local bans on hand-held cellular telephone use which are currently in the area.

Existing kingdom regulation prohibits texting even as riding, however, metropolis officials in Ketchum and Hailey say the statute in the region doesn’t cross ways sufficient. Current law essentially calls for police to get a warrant to look through a phone to prove the suspected texter changed into certainly texting as opposed to, say, studying an email or scrolling via Spotify. Because of the problem in imposing the nation’s texting and using ban, contributors to law enforcement say, citations are relatively uncommon — with the best criminal opportunity being the harsher misdemeanor fee of distracted driving.

Many distracted riding citations arise simplest after a crash has already taken a region, Rice instructed the committee.

“It’s when we’ve already created the worst end result,” Rice stated.

The Idaho Sheriff’s Association is in choose of the invoice, spokesman Michael Kane said on the hearing.

“The one element about freedom I’ve continually believed is the freedom to swing your fist ends on the tip of my nostril,” Kane stated.

Several insurance lobbyists also testified in favor of the invoice, mentioning statistics related to distracted using crashes.

The invoice’s warring parties encompass the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Spokesman Fred Birnbaum urged the committee to go back to the invoice to its sponsor, saying he had issues approximately how the bill might affect Uber and Lyft drivers. Rather than enforce a statewide handheld cellular phone ban, Birnbaum said, he would really like to see the Legislature trade its distracted riding regulation to provide law enforcement more discretion.

Two committee participants voted towards the invoice: Sen. Carl Crabtree, a Republican from Grangeville, and Sen. Van Burtenshaw, a Republican from Terreton.

Burtenshaw expressed the problem that his son, who frequently makes use of headphones in each ear together with his iPhone, could be mentioned underneath the bill, along side different young human beings.

“I applaud what you’re doing right here, but I do have some worries,” Burtenshaw said. “I assume that’s our era coming up.”

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