Distracted driving bill dies in House Judiciary Committee
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A bill that would have enforced tougher penalties for anyone caught texting and driving died Tuesday in the House Judiciary Committee.
The author of the bill and local law enforcement are voicing their frustrations.
Ridgeland Police Chief John Neal advocated for the bill and requested for State Representative Jill Ford to introduce it.
They are both disappointed the bill died in the Committee.
Ford released this statement, ”I’m extremely disappointed that this bill is not going have a chance to become law this year but am hopeful to get some momentum from law enforcement for next session”.
The bill would’ve made operating a cell phone while driving a misdemeanor, and if convicted, drivers would have to pay a $500 fine.
As the law is currently written, if drivers are convicted of texting and driving, they face a civil penalty and a $100 fine.
Chief Neal says he sees some form of distracted driving every day. He believes this bill was desperately needed and is disappointed lawmakers didn’t think the same.
“I don’t know what the main catch is with the legislators, why they don’t want to pass it,” Chief Neal said. “We’ve already got the one that’s out there right now that makes it a civil penalty. I don’t know why they won’t let the almost 8000 law enforcement officers in Mississippi put this tool on their tool belt to protect residents. This is something that we need; its law needs to be on the books.”
Rep. Ford says she’ll continue to bring up this bill during future legislative sessions.
She remains hopeful that one day it will get passed and become law.
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