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Senate Bans Text Messaging While Driving

V.I. residents will no longer be able to text or watch television while driving if a bill passed by the Senate on Wednesday is approved by Gov. John deJongh Jr.
Writing, reading, or sending text messages is specifically prohibited, along with entering a name or number into your phone for the purpose of making a telephone call.
The measure prohibiting the use of television equipment excludes vehicle navigation systems.
“It’s ridiculous that we have to tell grown folks that you can’t text while you’re driving,” said Sen. Sammuel Sanes. “I truly hope that this is enforced.”
Included in the bill are penalties for violations. The fine for a first offense of texting is $50. A second violation is punishable by a minimum fine of $75 but can go as high as $200. Three or more violations of the texting prohibition within a three-year period are punishable by a minimum fine of $200 and a maximum fine of $400. Violators may also have their driver’s license suspended for a period not to exceed one year.
Violations for driving while watching television or “television-type receiving equipment,” including DVD players, start at $20 for a first offense, between $50 and $200 for a second offense, and three or more violations within a three-year period are punishable by a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $200. Violators may also have their driver’s license suspended for a period not to exceed one year.
The ban is in line with similar legislation currently being proposed on a federal level. On Tuesday, two U.S. senators introduced a bill that would provide grants to states that enact texting-while-driving bans.
The Distracted Driving Prevention Act, introduced by Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va, and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, chairman and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, allocates safety belt education funds for distracted driving campaigns.
The bill conflicts with a bill introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. His bill, the Alert Drivers Act, requires states to enact bans on texting or e-mailing while driving or risk losing federal funds.
Currently, texting-while-driving is banned in 18 states and in Washington, D.C.

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