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NTSB wants nationwide ban on cell phones in cars? Is a radio ban far behind?

Most of my readers know that texting and driving is now banned in Indiana. This law became effective on July 1, 2011. Indiana Code 9-21-8-59 prohibits using a telecommunications device to type, transmit or read a text message or electronic mail. Violation of the law is traffic violation, also known as an infraction, with a fine of up to $500 plus court costs. A conviction will be reported to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

However, the law doesn't prohibit a driver from talking on the phone. That may soon be changing. The National Transportation Safety Board has voted to ban the non-emergency use of portable electronic devices (i.e., smartphones, cellphones) by all drivers. Federal accident investigators have even referred to "distracted driving" as an epidemic, like Drunk Driving (DUI/OWI). It is important to know that this same board has previously recommended bans on texting and cell phone use by commerical drivers and newly licensed drivers. Indiana lawmakers have already taken up some of these issues as evidenced by the new texting ban and an older law prohibiting drivers under the age of 18 from using a cell phone at all. It may just be a matter of time until our legislators begin to craft new laws and restrictions regarding the use of electronic devices by drivers.

I question how far this law will extend. Most police officers have laptop computers in there squad cars (commisions, if you are an Indiana State Trooper). These laptops are used to obtain drivers records, verify license plates and vehicle registrations and to perform background checks. Will law enforcement officers be exempt from any newly crafted law on "distracted driving? Will the laptop computers in squad cars have to be turned off when the Officer is driving? These are only a few of the questions that will need to be addressed before Indiana lawmakers draft any legislation.

Gregory A. Miller is a Fort Wayne Criminal Defense Lawyer. He represents client's in criminal matters, including all driving related offenses. He can be reached at (260) 833-7249.