OLR Bill Analysis

SB 427

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

SUMMARY:

This bill increases fines for drivers who use a cell phone or mobile electronic device while driving, eliminates the automatic suspension of a fine for a first offender, gives 25% of fine revenue to the town in which a summons is issued, imposes a $ 500 fine on certain drivers whose distracted driving results in an accident, and specifies that it is illegal to text while driving a moving vehicle.

Specifically, it:

1. replaces the maximum $ 100 fine for all offenses with fines of $ 100 for the first violation, $ 150 for a second violation, and $ 200 for subsequent violations;

2. eliminates the requirement that judges suspend the fine for a first offender who acquires a hands-free accessory before the fine is imposed;

3. imposes a $ 500 fine on a driver who commits a moving violation, in addition to the penalty imposed for the moving violation, if the driver commits the moving violation while engaged in an activity (a) unrelated to operating the vehicle that interferes with its safe operation and (b) that results in an accident;

4. requires the state to remit 25% of the amount it receives from each summons to the municipality that issues the summons; and

5. specifies that it is illegal for a driver to type, send, or read text messages on a hand-held cell telephone or mobile electronic device while operating a moving motor vehicle.

As with the law against using hand-held cell phones while driving, the texting ban does not apply in emergency situations or to any of the following people while performing their official duties: peace officers, firefighters, ambulance and emergency vehicle drivers, or members of the military when operating a military vehicle. The ban on texting has no legal effect because current law already prohibits drivers from engaging in any activity unrelated to operating a motor vehicle that interferes with its safe operation.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2010

BACKGROUND

Moving Violations

Moving violations include speeding, reckless driving, use of any cell phone or mobile electronic device by a driver under age 18, improper passing, improper turning, disobeying the signals of an officer, and passing a stopped school bus, and following too closely (CGS 14-111g).

COMMITTEE ACTION

Transportation Committee

Joint Favorable

Yea

36

Nay

0

(03/16/2010)