OLR Bill Analysis

sHB 6722

AN ACT CONCERNING THE USE OF HAND-HELD MOBILE TELEPHONES AND HAND-HELD MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES BY OPERATORS OF MOTOR VEHICLES

SUMMARY:

This bill prohibits a driver from using (1) a mobile telephone, unless it is a hands-free telephone, while driving a motor vehicle on a public or private road, except under certain circumstances, and (2) a mobile electronic device to perform any personal computer function, send or receive electronic mail, play a video game, view a digital video disk player, or take or transmit any digital photograph. The prohibitions begin on January 1, 2006.

The prohibitions do not apply to passengers regardless of where they are seated in the vehicle. A law enforcement officer who issues a summons for violation of either prohibition must record on the summons form the specific nature of any distracted driving behavior he saw that contributed to issuing the summons.

A first Violation is punishable as an infraction with a fine of up to $ 75, a second violation by a fine of up to $ 150, and a third or subsequent violation by a fine of up to $ 250. Because only a first violation is designated as an infraction, and fines for subsequent violations are not designated for payment by mail, second or subsequent violations require a court appearance.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2005

DEFINITIONS

The bill defines a mobile telephone as a cellular, analog, wireless, or digital telephone capable of sending or receiving telephone communications without an access line for service. A hands-free mobile telephone is one with a speakerphone capability or attachment, add-on component or other additional equipment, whether permanent or temporary, that allows the driver to maintain both hands on the steering wheel.

A mobile electronic device is any hand-held or other portable electronic equipment capable of performing personal computer functions, sending or receiving electronic mail, playing video games or digital video disks, or taking or transmitting digital photographs, or any combination of these functions. Mobile electronic device does not include audio equipment or any equipment installed in the vehicle to provide navigation, emergency, or other assistance to the driver or video entertainment to any passenger in the vehicle.

EXCEPTIONS TO MOBILE TELEPHONE USE PROHIBITION

Under the bill, any driver, except a 16- or 17-year old (either operating with a learner’s permit or licensed and subject to statutory driving restrictions), may use a hands-free mobile telephone at any time. A driver, including a 16- and 17-year old, may use a mobile telephone that is not capable of hands-free operation if he is:

1. driving alone and reasonably fears for his safety or reasonably believes that a criminal act may be perpetrated against him;

2. using the telephone to contact the 9-1-1 emergency system to report what he reasonably believes is an emergency or commission of a crime or motor vehicle violation;

3. driving a school bus carrying passengers and is reporting a mechanical breakdown or an emergency that endangers anyone in the bus; or

4. a peace officer, firefighter, or person driving an ambulance or authorized emergency vehicle, school bus without passengers, taxicab, or tow truck while acting in the performance of duty and within the scope of his employment. An authorized emergency vehicle includes a fire department vehicle, police vehicle, or public service company or municipal department ambulance or emergency vehicle designated or authorized for use by the motor vehicle commissioner as an emergency vehicle.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Transportation Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

28

Nay

1