A law banning the use of traditional cell phones while driving was enacted in 2005. Legislators are now considering increasing the penalties for a violation of this law—a law they say currently lacks “teeth” or any significant reason for people to adhere to it.
The state Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing this week to discuss two separate bills, one of which would allow the cops to actually take your phone.
Last year the legislature abolished the once-existent “pass” for first time offenders of the law. When it was enacted in 2005, the law allowed a one-time pass, so long as the driver promised to get a hands-free device for their phone. Last year this pass was stricken from the law books in an effort to bring more accountability.
This year they are looking at two additional bills. House Bill 6366 would allow an immediate driver's license suspension of anyone found to be using their phone to make calls, text, or send or receive emails in two or more incidences. It also increases fines, to $100 for a first offense and $500 for a second offense. Also, for a second or subsequent violation, you could be sentenced to up to 3 months in jail.
The second piece of legislation being considered, SB 961, might actually anger more citizens than the first. This proposed bill would allow the police to seize your mobile device for 48 hours when issuing a summons. Yes, two entire days without your telephone-certainly something most modern folks couldn't handle.
It's early in the law making process for these two bills. There's little doubt in my mind that SB 961 will meet with some serious opposition. Anytime it's suggested that the government be able to seize your property, there should be opposition, particularly in cases where the seizure occurs prior to you being afforded the due process of the courts.
And opponents suggest that dangerous driving behavior is already covered under Connecticut's Reckless Driving statutes.
We'll keep an eye on these bills should they go before the legislature. As a criminal defense lawyer in Connecticut, it's my duty to stay informed of the newest laws being passed as I will no doubt be called upon to defend a client under such laws.
Understanding the legal system can be difficult with so many laws and processes. Having an experienced defense lawyer on your side can help. If you're facing criminal charges, contact me today to discuss your case.