Senate Passes Ban on All Cell Phone Use by Drivers

By Megan Trent

March 16, 2011 Updated Mar 17, 2011 at 3:52 PM EDT

INDIANA (Indiana's NewsCenter) - Put down the cell phone or else. Hoosier lawmakers have passed legislation that would make using a cell phone while driving a fineable offense.

The original goal bill was limited to a ban on texting, but on Monday the Indiana Senate adopted an amendment that would extend the ban to all cell phone use. That means no more sending or receiving texts anymore, but it also means no talking on your cell phone while driving either. An infraction could result in fines of up to $500.

In 2009, Hoosier lawmakers made it illegal for people under the age of 18 to use electronics while driving, but this new law would apply to people of all ages.

A similar version of the bill also passed in the Indiana House, but did not include the banning of all cell phone use - just texting. Now the measure will go before a House-Senate Conference Committee where legislators will draft a single version of the bill before it is sent to Governor Daniels to sign into law.

If adopted, Indiana would then become the 31st state to ban texting while driving or the ninth state to put a complete ban on hand-held cell phones into place.

State Senator Tom Wyss (R-Fort Wayne) says, "Essentially what is going to happen because this also deals with speaking on a cell phone, it's going to cause a lot of people to oppose it. The chances of it passing in this manner is pretty slim."

Wyss also says using hands-free devices would be permitted under the new law, but if an officer saw someone driving with a device in their hands, that officer would have probable cause to pull the driver over and write them a citation.

Many say, however, enforcing the ban would be a challenge. Wyss says if using a cell phone is banned completely while driving, identifying infractions wouldn't be as difficult as it would be if texting is the only restricted activity.

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