DENVER (CBS4)– A state lawmaker says it’s not enough to ban texting while driving, the current law in Colorado. Sen. Lois Court, a Democrat representing Denver, wants to ban drivers from using hand-held phones altogether.
“This is designed to stop dangerous behavior,” said Court.
Under Court’s bill, a first violation would be punishable by $300 and 4 points to a driver’s license, a second offense would be $500 and 6 points, and a third and subsequent offenses would be $750 and 8 points.
Bob Frank is among 20 people who testified in favor of the bill. He has some experience with distracted drivers.
“I have been hit by four distracted drivers who’ve been on their phone,” said Frank.
Frank told state lawmakers that when he went to check on one of the drivers who’d hit him, she was still on the phone.
“Her first comment was, ‘I’ve got to go. I just rear-ended someone.’ She hadn’t even put the phone down,” said Frank.
Opponents, including the ACLU and Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, say the bill goes too far, equating holding a phone while driving with reckless driving.
“Bills like this become symbolism, they don’t give you results,” Denise Maes with the ACLU told lawmakers.
She called for more education, “It bothers me that our first knee-jerk reaction to solve problems is to criminalize behavior.”
But that behavior, Susan Dane says, costs lives. Two of her close friends were killed by a woman texting and driving while drunk.
“This was not an accident that killed my friends. It was a preventable incident. It’s all about choices that people make. This bill will save lives and could be yours or someone you love,” said Dane.
It’s already against the law for drivers under age 18 to use a hand-held phone while driving. This bill would expand the law to include all drivers. Hands-free devices would be okay.
After several hours of testimony, a Senate committee delayed a vote on the bill to address some of opponents concerns.