WV House Passes Ban On Texting While Driving
The West Virginia House of Delegates passed SB211 with a landslide vote, 87-12, outlawing the use of handheld devices to call or text while driving. The bill makes texting while driving a primary offense and talking on your phone without a hands-free device while driving a secondary offense. Drivers can be pulled over initially for primary offenses, while secondary offenses can only be issued after a primary offense.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced during his State of the State Address that banning texting while driving was one of his top legislative goals.
Of the twelve “nay” votes, Delegate Larry Kump, R-Berkeley, said that “Citizens are getting more and more disturbed and concerned about government, and I think this adds to that.” Kump also pointed out that the bill is inconsistent by not banning any other distracting activities like reading or writing while driving.
For instance, Driver A could be reading a newspaper with one hand and playing Angry Birds on their iPad with the other hand and not be breaking any laws, but Driver B would be pulled over and fined up to $200 for typing “b home soon” on their phone while sitting at a red light.
Supporters of the bill, like Delegate Danny Wells, D-Kanawha, claim that the bill will save lives.
The 2012 regular session ends at midnight Saturday. The Senate has until then to consider the amended bill.
The House and Senate will most likely revise the bill in a conference committee to finalize a version to send to the Governor. Governor Tomblin has suggested that he will sign the bill regardless of whether or not it ends up being a primary or secondary offense.
*Voting information regarding this bill has been obtained from House Roll Call Vote 315 on 03/09/12. The House had to vote to pass the conference version on 03/10/12, which was recorded in Roll Call Vote 464. However, Roll Call Vote 464 is still not available to WVP at this time. Therefore, certain votes do not reflect the final vote.
*Delegate John N. Ellem has noted on WVP’s Facebook page that he voted ‘nay’ on the final conference version.