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General Assembly approves texting ban, tougher DUI law

April 01, 2010 | | Comments 6

By John Cheves – jcheves herald-leader.com

FRANKFORT — The Kentucky House gave final approval Thursday to a ban on text messaging while driving — a measure once thought imperiled for the session — and a second bill that will toughen the drunken driving law.

The House voted 86-10 to approve House Bill 415, a measure that originally dealt with personal-care attendants but was amended by the Senate on Monday to include the texting ban.

The bill would ban texting while driving for everyone and the use of cell phones while driving for those under 18.

The Senate and House each passed their own versions of the texting ban earlier this year but refused to consider the other chamber’s until reaching a last-minute compromise.

“This bill is so important because I am confident it will save lives, the lives of young people across our commonwealth,” said Rep. Jody Richards, D-Bowling Green, who sponsored the House version of the proposal.

The bill goes to Gov. Steve Beshear, who released a statement saying he will sign it into law. Last year, Beshear issued an executive order banning texting while driving for state employees in state vehicles.

“The texting bill is a common-sense bill to protect all Kentucky drivers. Regardless of whether you personally text while driving, another nearby driver may be distracted by typing out a message,” Beshear said.

Also Thursday, the House voted to toughen the state’s driving under the influence law by passing, for the second time this week, House Bill 265. The House passed the bill on Monday but then nullified that vote after a lawmaker filed a motion for reconsideration.

On Thursday, the House approved it again by a 79-to-15 margin. The bill, as amended by the Senate, would prohibit possession or trafficking in “synthetic cannabinoids,” man-made drugs with high levels of THC, which gives marijuana its natural potency.

The Senate also added a section strengthening the DUI law. Anyone with detectable levels of more than a dozen types of unprescribed drugs in their blood would be presumed guilty of DUI, including amphetamines, cocaine and oxycodone.

Finally, the bill drops from 0.18 to 0.15 the level at which suspects’ blood alcohol becomes an aggravating factor in their cases and mandates jail sentences if they are convicted.

Several House members, including Rep. Brent Yonts, D-Greenville, protested that the bill would violate Kentuckians’ constitutional rights by presuming guilt based on the mere presence of drugs in their blood.

HB 265 also proceeds to the governor’s desk.

Filed Under: KY General Assembly

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  1. joan wilhoit says:

    It is way time something was done about this dangerous habit. Way to go! Electronics have their place but it is best if the user controls the electronics rather than the electronics controlling the user!

  2. rick turner says:

    I don’t see a ‘no-texting’ law being enforced to strictly. Just this evening, around 6pm, leaving kirklevington park, we say a lexington police office texting.

  3. rick turner says:

    I don’t see a ‘no-texting’ law being to strictly enforced. Just this evening, around 6pm, leaving kirklevington park, we saw a Lexington police officer texting.

  4. frommars says:

    I think it is well intended, in terms of the texting law…very difficult to enforce, but think the detectable substance goes too far…there needs to be a threshold on the amount of drug that a person is impaired rather than just the mere presence of the drug. There were a couple of posts yesterday by people who thought it was a good idea to arrest anyone with any detectable drug…my question to them is…what if you are tested and are positive (false positive)…what are your choices in terms of recourse or retesting…or are you jut going to jail…would sort of be fitting for some narrrow minded individuals

  5. Buck Feshear says:

    We already have a “per se” law for DUI of alcohol in Kentucky. If you blow a 0.08, the law states you are intoxicated and the officer doesn’t have to prove any impairment, loss of motor skills, etc. The mere fact that you’re driving with that BAC is illegal no matter how drunk or sober you may appear to be.

  6. texting while driving…

    CellSafety is a new way to prevent dangerous texting and driving….