Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-6366

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING THE PENALTY FOR USING A CELLULAR TELEPHONE WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE.

Vote Date:

4/14/2011

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/18/2011

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

Representatives Hetherington and Tong and Senator Doyle collaborated to draft a bill to increase the penalties for using hand held cellular devices thereby reducing the number of accidents caused by drivers being distracted by using these devices while operating a motor vehicle.

Substitute Language: Strengthens the violation of a second offense of operating a motor vehicle while using a cell phone. The offender shall be guilty of an unclassified misdemeanor and be subject to a term of imprisonment.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Deborah Del Prete Sullivan, Legal Counsel, Executive Assistant Public Defender: Opposes this bill. We are not aware of any state which provide for a period of incarceration for using a cell phone without a hands free device. Secondly, in regard for texting violations, only Alaska and Utah provide for a sentence of incarceration. This office is concerned that by enhancing the penalty, additional financial resources would be required in order to provide representation to indigent persons accused of committing a second or subsequent violation of the statute.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Joseph Buyak, Captain, Hartford Police Dept: Testified in support of this bill. “My belief is that the current statute, despite the proposed revisions, lacks the muscle necessary to curtail future acts of phone or electronic device use while driving. Hitting someone in their purse, especially in this economic climate, may be the only way to bring about a change in the mindset of those even remotely contemplating the commission of this illegal act.

You take away my phone, I'll borrow my friend's or use another phone. I think that logistically speaking it would create an evidentiary nightmare for our property rooms, for the officers. I mean you talk about being taken off the streets, you issue a cell phone violation and confiscate their phone, there's specific evidentiary rules that you'd have to follow, paperwork, this kind or that.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

None submitted

Reported by: George Marinelli

Date: April 20, 2011