By Libby Smith

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado lawmakers are considering a bill that would make the penalties for texting and driving tougher. The bill has some surprising supporters who have made it their mission to make the roads safer.

Brian and Jacquie Lehner (credit: Ponderosa Valley Funeral Home)

Brian and Jacquie Lehner (credit: CBS)

“Brian and Jacquie were very involved members of the community, liked by everybody, I don’t think they had an enemy,” said Lori Taggart, an acquaintance of Brian and Jacquie Lehner.

The Lehners were long-time members of the Douglas County Harley Owners Group, DC-HOG.

“And were the type of people who would give you the shirt off their back, no matter what,” Taggart told CBS4.

LINK: Brian & Jacquie Memorial Facebook Page

The Lehners were on a ride a year ago when they were hit and killed by Athina Munoz

Munoz was drunk, high and texting at the time of the accident. Last month, Munoz was sentenced to 10 years in prison for each of the deaths, a sentence that was only handed down because of the drunk and high infractions. As a texting driver, she may only have faced a $50 fine and one point on her license.

Brian & Jacquie Lehner (credit CORD)

Brian & Jacquie Lehner (credit CORD)

“We needed to do something to honor their memory, that would be impactful and save lives going forward,” Taggart explained.

LINK: CORD Facebook Page

Members of the motorcycle riding community have started a new group, Coloradans Organized for Responsible Driving, or CORD. The group wants to attack all the different reasons why drivers are distracted behind the wheel. The first issue they’re focused on is texting and driving.

CORD is backing a bill that would raise the penalties for texting and driving.

LINK: Legislative Web Page for SB17-027

“As a deterrent in Colorado, to be able to get people to think twice that there are more important things than what is in the phone while you’re driving,” Taggart said.

The bill raises the fine to $300 and puts the points at four for a driver’s first offense of texting and driving.

LINK: SB17-027 Increase Penalty Texting While Driving Bill

“The bottom line is there is no message worth a life,” said state Sen. Lois Court, a Democrat representing Denver.

Court said she brought the bill forward because she says her constituents are tired of what she calls egregious behavior.

“I think it makes a statement that we know it’s very dangerous, and we want you to pay attention,” Court explained.

It’s supported by Gov. John Hickenlooper’s  administration and the Colorado State Patrol. Now CORD wants every Coloradan to back this bill.

“This isn’t just about bikers. This is about every single person on the road,” Taggart said.

Libby Smith is a Special Projects Producer at CBS4. If you have a story you’d like to tell CBS4 about, call 303-863-TIPS (8477) or visit the News Tips section.


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