This is an upgrade of the current law, which applies to drivers 18 and younger, and doesn't include an exception for a hands-free accessory. Also, the violation under the current law is a secondary offense, meaning an officer can only issue a citation if the driver is pulled over for a separate suspected offense. Under the new law, it'll be a primary offense. The maximum fine under the current and new versions is the same: $90.
I'm all for this type of law, but this one has problems:
- It doesn't apply to bicyclists, whose personal safety depends more on their manual dexterity and reaction time (both of which, at least in the legislature's thinking, are compromised through use of a cell phone) than a driver's does.
- It's overinclusive. My phone has a couple dozen functions other than transmitting voice calls or texts. I use a map application for directions all the time. However, since I'm operating my phone in order to do it, I can get fined under this law, even though use of a similar device to do the same thing (like an in-dash GPS computer, a handheld GPS device, or, for that matter, the same app on an iPod Touch) is perfectly legal. Same with using a music app for some tunes while driving.