Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Committee Bill No. 6033

January Session, 2013

 

LCO No. 4224

 

*04224HB06033TRA*

Referred to Committee on TRANSPORTATION

 

Introduced by:

 

(TRA)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE PROVIDERS AND DISTRACTED DRIVING.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 14-296aa of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2013):

(a) For purposes of this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) "Mobile telephone" means a cellular, analog, wireless or digital telephone capable of sending or receiving telephone communications without an access line for service.

(2) "Using" or "use" means holding a hand-held mobile telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, the user's ear.

(3) "Hand-held mobile telephone" means a mobile telephone with which a user engages in a call using at least one hand.

(4) "Hands-free accessory" means an attachment, add-on, built-in feature, or addition to a mobile telephone, whether or not permanently installed in a motor vehicle, that, when used, allows the vehicle operator to maintain both hands on the steering wheel.

(5) "Hands-free mobile telephone" means a hand-held mobile telephone that has an internal feature or function, or that is equipped with an attachment or addition, whether or not permanently part of such hand-held mobile telephone, by which a user engages in a call without the use of either hand, whether or not the use of either hand is necessary to activate, deactivate or initiate a function of such telephone.

(6) "Engage in a call" means talking into or listening on a hand-held mobile telephone, but does not include holding a hand-held mobile telephone to activate, deactivate or initiate a function of such telephone.

(7) "Immediate proximity" means the distance that permits the operator of a hand-held mobile telephone to hear telecommunications transmitted over such hand-held mobile telephone, but does not require physical contact with such operator's ear.

(8) "Mobile electronic device" means any hand-held or other portable electronic equipment capable of providing data communication between two or more persons, including a text messaging device, a paging device, a personal digital assistant, a laptop computer, equipment that is capable of playing a video game or a digital video disk, or equipment on which digital photographs are taken or transmitted, or any combination thereof, but does not include any audio equipment or any equipment installed in a motor vehicle for the purpose of providing navigation, emergency assistance to the operator of such motor vehicle or video entertainment to the passengers in the rear seats of such motor vehicle.

(b) (1) Except as otherwise provided in this subsection and subsections (c) and (d) of this section, no person shall operate a motor vehicle upon a highway, as defined in section 14-1, while using a hand-held mobile telephone to engage in a call or while using a mobile electronic device while such vehicle is in motion. An operator of a motor vehicle who types, sends or reads a text message with a hand-held mobile telephone or mobile electronic device while such vehicle is in motion shall be in violation of this section, except that if such operator is driving a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in section 14-1, such operator shall be charged with a violation of subsection (e) of this section.

(2) An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a hand-held mobile telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, his or her ear while such vehicle is in motion is presumed to be engaging in a call within the meaning of this section. The presumption established by this subdivision is rebuttable by evidence tending to show that the operator was not engaged in a call.

(3) The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed as authorizing the seizure or forfeiture of a hand-held mobile telephone or a mobile electronic device, unless otherwise provided by law.

(4) Subdivision (1) of this subsection shall not apply to: (A) The use of a hand-held mobile telephone for the sole purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation: An emergency response operator; a hospital, physician's office or health clinic; an ambulance company; a fire department; or a police department, or (B) any of the following persons while in the performance of their official duties and within the scope of their employment: A peace officer, as defined in subdivision (9) of section 53a-3, a firefighter or an operator of an ambulance or authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in section 14-1, or a member of the armed forces of the United States, as defined in section 27-103, while operating a military vehicle, or (C) the use of a hand-held radio by a person with an amateur radio station license issued by the Federal Communications Commission, or (D) the use of a hands-free mobile telephone.

(c) No person shall use a hand-held mobile telephone or other electronic device, including those with hands-free accessories, or a mobile electronic device while operating a moving school bus that is carrying passengers, except that this subsection shall not apply to (1) a school bus driver who places an emergency call to school officials, or (2) the use of a hand-held mobile telephone as provided in subparagraph (A) of subdivision (4) of subsection (b) of this section.

(d) No person under eighteen years of age shall use any hand-held mobile telephone, including one with a hands-free accessory, or a mobile electronic device while operating a moving motor vehicle on a public highway, except as provided in subparagraph (A) of subdivision (4) of subsection (b) of this section.

(e) No person shall type, read or send text or a text message with or from a mobile telephone or mobile electronic device while operating a commercial motor vehicle, as defined in section 14-1, except for the purpose of communicating with any of the following regarding an emergency situation: An emergency response operator; a hospital; physician's office or health clinic; an ambulance company; a fire department or a police department.

(f) Except as provided in subsections (b) to (e), inclusive, of this section, no person shall engage in any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of such vehicle on any highway, as defined in section 14-1.

(g) Any law enforcement officer who issues a summons for a violation of this section shall record on such summons the specific nature of any distracted driving behavior observed by such officer.

(h) Any person who violates this section shall be fined one hundred [twenty-five] fifty dollars for a first violation, [two hundred fifty] three hundred dollars for a second violation and [four] five hundred dollars for a third or subsequent violation.

(i) An operator of a motor vehicle who commits a moving violation, as defined in subsection (a) of section 14-111g, while engaged in any activity prohibited by this section shall be fined in accordance with subsection (h) of this section, in addition to any penalty or fine imposed for the moving violation.

(j) The state shall remit to a municipality twenty-five per cent of the fine amount received for a violation of this section with respect to each summons issued by such municipality. Each clerk of the Superior Court or the Chief Court Administrator, or any other official of the Superior Court designated by the Chief Court Administrator, shall, on or before the thirtieth day of January, April, July and October in each year, certify to the Comptroller the amount due for the previous quarter under this subsection to each municipality served by the office of the clerk or official.

(k) A record of any violation of this section shall appear on the driving history record or motor vehicle record, as defined in section 14-10, of any person who commits such violation, and the record of such violation shall be available to any motor vehicle insurer in accordance with the provisions of section 14-10.

Sec. 2. Section 14-137a of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective October 1, 2013):

The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles shall adopt regulations in accordance with the provisions of chapter 54, setting forth the number of points chargeable against the owner of an operator's license for conviction of any violation of the motor vehicle laws deemed appropriate by the commissioner for the assessment of such points. Such regulations shall provide specific information as to the number of points assessed for the conviction of each specified violation, the total number of points which, in a period of time specified by the commissioner, shall require a hearing before the commissioner or permit automatic suspension without prior hearing, and the period of time during which any such suspension shall extend. Such regulations shall provide that (1) not less than two points shall be assessed for conviction of a violation of subsection (d) of section 14-100a, (2) not more than one point shall be assessed for conviction of a violation of section 14-219 and (3) no points shall be assessed for an infraction or any violation specified in subsection (b) of section 51-164n for which the person sends payment of the fine and any additional fees or costs established for such infraction or violation to the Centralized Infractions Bureau in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c) of section 51-164n, except not less than one point shall be assessed for any violation of section 14-296aa, as amended by this act. If such regulations provide for participation in a driver improvement course or system for the owner of an operator's license, the commissioner may charge a fee of fifty dollars for registration for such course or system.

Sec. 3. (Effective from passage) (a) There is established a task force to study issues concerning the prevention of distracted driving in the state. Such task force shall (1) evaluate the effectiveness of existing laws prohibiting distracted driving, (2) examine distracted driving enforcement, (3) consider any federal efforts to prevent distracted driving, (4) consider any distracted driving efforts in other states, and (5) develop recommendations, including any necessary legislative changes, to prevent distracted driving in Connecticut.

(b) The task force shall consist of the following members:

(1) Two appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives;

(2) Two appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate;

(3) One appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives;

(4) One appointed by the majority leader of the Senate;

(5) One appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives;

(6) One appointed by the minority leader of the Senate;

(7) The Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, or the commissioner's designee; and

(8) The Commissioner of Transportation, or the commissioner's designee.

(c) Any member of the task force appointed under subsection (b) of this section may be a member of the General Assembly.

(d) All appointments to the task force shall be made not later than thirty days after the effective date of this section. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(e) The speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate shall select the chairpersons of the task force from among the members of the task force. Such chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the task force, which shall be held not later than sixty days after the effective date of this section.

(f) The administrative staff of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to transportation shall serve as administrative staff of the task force.

(g) Not later than January 1, 2014, the task force shall submit a report on its findings and recommendations to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to transportation, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. The task force shall terminate on the date that it submits such report or January 1, 2014, whichever is later.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

October 1, 2013

14-296aa

Sec. 2

October 1, 2013

14-137a

Sec. 3

from passage

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To deter distracted driving.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]

Co-Sponsors:

REP. SCRIBNER, 107th Dist.

H.B. 6033