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New Mexico Telegram » New Mexico Senate, Roundhouse » Senate passes texting-while-driving ban

Senate passes texting-while-driving ban

State Senate SealThe state Senate passed a bill that would ban texting while driving passed the Senate on a 37-5 vote after extensive debate.

The legislation isn’t new — in fact this is the fifth time such legislation has been introduced — but this is the first time that such legislation passed the Senate.

The bill really covers more than just texting. The bill would also ban answering emails on a phone or even changing Pandora stations. While one would be able to make phone calls with a Bluetooth or other type of headset, the bill would require those driving in New Mexico to pull over to dial the phone.

There was opposition to the bill, including Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen.

From the Associated Press:

State Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, who voted against the ban, said he was concerned that the bill would give police a “cart blanche” to pull over motorists for something as mundane as glancing down at an ashtray. “I see that as a very serious problem,” he said.

Others felt the proposal took away from resources from police and was hard to prove in court.

From the Fiscal Impact Report on the original bill:

SB 19 defines “handheld mobile communication device” as a wireless communication devise but excludes global positioning or navigation systems (GPS), devices that are physically or electronically integrated into a motor vehicle and voice-operated or hands-free devices that allow the user to write, send or read a text message without the use of a hand except to activate, deactivate or initiate a feature or function. “Text message” is defined to include e-mail, instant messages, a text or image communication and a command or request to an Internet site, and to exclude communications through the use of a computer-aided dispatch service by law enforcement or rescue personnel.

And, yes, this bill would ban taking selfies on your cell phone while driving.

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Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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