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April 18, 2015

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Senate approves bill restricting cell phone use while driving

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CARSON CITY – Senate Democrats overrode opposition from Republicans on Tuesday and approved a bill that would prohibit motorists from text messaging or talking on a cell phone while driving.

Senate Bill 140 advanced on a 12-9 vote and goes to the Assembly. The bill contains exceptions for emergency and law enforcement personnel.

Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, said the intention of the bill isn't to take away the rights of motorists, but instead, to make roads safer.

Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, questioned whether GPS could be used in vehicles. He said he has to press a button to activate the system, but under the bill he would be breaking the law.

“It makes no sense you can use the radio but not the GPS,” he said Monday during debate on the measure.

Sen. Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas, said the GPS could be used if it is attached to the dash but can’t be held in the motorist’s hands while driving. Manendo said juveniles have become addicted to using cell phones, questioning why a driver couldn't pull over to respond to a text message.

The bill would permit a driver to communicate if he or she doesn’t use hands. If approved by the Assembly, it would go into effect July 1, but officers would only give warnings through Dec. 31.

Starting in 2012, officers would issue citations and the first offense would be a fine of $50. A second offense within seven years would result in a $100 fine and a third offense within the seven years would get a $250 fine.

Anyone who is nabbed using a cell or texting could be convicted of a misdemeanor, but a first offense wouldn't go on a person’s driving record.

Law enforcement officers and firefighters would be exempt if they were on duty. An amateur radio operator who is communicating tied to an actual or impending disaster or emergency would also be exempt.

The measure was opposed by all Republican senators except Minority Leader Mike McGinness of Fallon.

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  1. How about a cup of coffee will that be ok to sip while driving?

    Sen. Shirley Breeden, D-Henderson, said the intention of the bill isn't to take away the rights of motorists, but instead, to make roads safer.

    The intention is to raise money period. Teenagers will still text even if this becomes law.

    Why not use the statute already on the books for inattentive driving? Because. . . the intention is to raise money.

  2. Let me say that this is one of the most ridiculous pieces of legislation for our legislators to be focusing on right now!

    When we have a budget crises, an education crisis, a jobs crisis--we are wasting time worrying about what people are doing in their cars!

    What are we going to do next? Maybe tell people they can't have kids in their cars? Maybe we'll just tell drivers that they can't drink coffee in their cars while they drive to work since it's a distraction? Maybe we'll just tell folks they can't listen to their music--especially those with loud speakers since they never hear the ambulances or police cars coming!

    Are we not going down the same road as the helmet law? Another law that tells individuals what they can and cannot do with their personal property--BIG GOVERNMENT!

    At a time when our lawmakers need to be focused on how to keep this state running, they instead are once again focusing on the wrong issues. Improving our education system, diversifying our economy, and putting our citizens back to work should be the focus--clearly it's not!

    I can only hope and pray that our lawmakers--many of which have great intentions; will change their focus. Put the issues Nevadans need on the front burner where they belong instead of finding ways to make our lives harder and take away more freedoms!

  3. A good idea who's time is way past due.

  4. Place your bets on when the first cop-on-cell-phone accident occurs!!!

  5. "When we have a budget crises, an education crisis, a jobs crisis--we are wasting time worrying about what people are doing in their cars!"

    The most ignorant comment I have heard in a long time. Take a look at the video below and then YOU tell me why we have to worry about what people are doing in their cars!!

    If you are sharing the road with me, I want you doing nothing but focusing on whats important.....this bill will save lives.

  6. Common sense says it's stupid to text and drive. But talking on a cell phone, hands free or not, is another story. I'd like to know how many people who feel that part of this bill is reasonable have ever turned to look at a passenger when having a conversation.

    The distinction between hand-held and dash mounted GPS is also bad. Both require a lot of your attention to use. Many of the new in-dash systems are possibly more distracting than the rest with the map displays. It is possible that it takes more attention to read and analyze a map than it does a text message.

    Yet another nanny law that did more than was required.

  7. The police are the major offenders, playing with their computer, their gun and their cell phone.

    Gillespie is a tax and spender. More taxes, more cops? (not really) More laws. He advocates red light cameras as well. (That were kicked out of Arizona.) Here's what happens with cameras Mr Sheriff, a bad idea:

    Anyone else advocating more taxes and more laws gets dumped on by the talk radio crowd, but Gillespie gets a pass. By eliminating laws on prostitution and pot, we could cut Metro by 30% right off the bat.

    What is next? A police drone?