BOISE — A bill to ban the usage of a handheld cellular telephone whilst riding statewide is heading to the full Senate. The Senate Transportation Committee voted 6-2 Tuesday to boost the bill. It would set the fines for a contravention at $50 for a first offense, $100 for a 2d and $2 hundred for a third and next offense, plus feasible license suspension of as much as ninety days for three or extra offenses inside three years. It makes mobile phone use a number one violation; police can prevent someone just for that. It could additionally override the handful of current local bans, including in Idaho Falls and Pocatello.
Idaho banned texting even as driving in 2012, but that ban simplest covers texting specifically and is little enforced. A bill to ban talking on a hand-held smartphone even as riding exceeded the same committee in 2018 but died on a 22-thirteen vote inside the complete Senate.
The bill, sponsored with the aid of Sen. Jim Rice, R-Caldwell, might allow human beings to use a fingers-loose tool and might permit the use of headphones as long as the earpiece is the handiest in a single ear. It also includes a few exceptions, including in emergencies and for first responders wearing out their duties. Rice cast the degree as protecting human beings’ right to travel.
“When we’ve chaos at the roads or unsafe conditions, that genuinely interferes with the right our citizens are actively exercising on the roads,” he stated. Some critics of banning cellular telephone use even as riding have said the kingdom’s inattentive riding regulation should cover it. Rice said this regulation is secondary enforcement and is a misdemeanor, bringing harsher penalties than his bill, which makes the use of a cellular telephone while riding an infraction. Also, Rice stated most inattentive using citations are written after someone has gotten into a coincidence.
“It’s after we’ve already created the worst result,” he said.
Several people testified in prefer of the bill, such as lobbyists for insurance corporations, AAA Idaho, and the Idaho Sheriffs Association. “The one element approximately freedom that I’ve continually believed is the liberty to swing your fist ends on the tip of my nose,” stated Michael Kane, who was speaking for the sheriffs association and several insurance agencies. Idaho Freedom Foundation Vice President Fred Birnbaum turned into the simplest man or woman to testify in opposition to the bill. He worried how it might affect Uber and Lyft drivers who need to apply their phones simultaneously as working, and he objected to exempting first responders.
“I think we will restore the inattentive driving law, so we don’t have this blanket trouble,” Birnbaum said. Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, instructed Birnbaum approximately a friend of hers who became killed in a crash with a motive force talking on a mobile phone a yr ago. She challenged Birnbaum to rewrite the distracted driving law and said she and her colleagues have been looking to shop lives. “I would like you to restoration it, so it’s secure so that greater kids gained’t be killed so you wouldn’t be status here usually … criticizing a invoice after which placing negative factors when senators vote or House participants vote,” Lodge stated.
The lodge was relating to the Freedom Index, wherein the group rankings bills after which ranks lawmakers based totally on their votes. The IFF has negatively scored the mobile phone bill, which means lawmakers who vote for it will lose factors on their Freedom Index score.
Birnbaum said he might be inclined to paintings on the inattentive riding statute. He additionally said people “misunderstand my intent and role” on the Freedom Foundation.
“I do suppose the balance of public policy is to achieve the proper effects while now not overly infringing on people’s liberties,” Birnbaum said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Winder, R-Boise, who opposed ultimate year’s bill, stated Rice’s development. Balancing freedom and safety, he said, is one of the challenges of governing.
“I suppose there’s a responsibility we all have when we share a common thoroughfare in existence,” he said. “And from time to time, that means giving up some of our freedoms for the safety of others.”