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The Student News Site of Frederick High School

Frederick Lantern

The Student News Site of Frederick High School

Frederick Lantern

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DWP: Driving While on a Phone

Colorado passes bill outlawing use of phones while driving

Lawmakers have finally passed a bill that criminalizes any use of cell phones while driving. This will cause Colorado to join the 27 other states with the same law. While hands-free use is still permitted, use of a phone while driving will result in fines and possible arrest.

While cell phone use while driving has been illegal for Colorado drivers under 18 for years, efforts to extend this to people over 18 have failed numerous times. However, in this recent session, the bill succeeded under bill sponsor Rep. David Ortiz, D-Littleton.

While the original bill passed through the Colorado Senate months ago, it was held up in the House over concerns that the law would cause police to be able to pull over drivers for simply having a phone on their body. While Ortiz sympathizes with those concerned that this bill will allow for more overpolicing of the road, he feels that saving lives is more important: “I have been harassed [by police]. My family has been harassed by cops. But I also have a cousin who was murdered by a distracted driver in 2003, so I wanted to thread the needle, and I think we got a really good spot.”

 

“The spot” he’s referring to is an amendment to the bill added by the Colorado House that says a police officer must actually see the driver using a cell phone to pull somebody over. The bill also protects drivers if their device is being used with a hands-free system like Bluetooth sync, Apple CarPlay, or Android Auto. There are also exceptions for making a call during an emergency, using the phone while parked, or calling first responders.

A spokesperson for Gov. Jared Polis was quoted saying the bill was a big step forward to improving road safety: “Governor Polis appreciates the work of the bill sponsors and stakeholders for this effort to make Colorado safer by having Colorado join 27 other states and D.C. in banning handheld cell phone use while driving.”

 

The bill will go into effect in January 2025. Fines will start at $75; however, if you are a first-time offender, you can get the fee waived if you buy a hands-free device. If phone use contributes to a careless driving accident, this law will intensify the fine or jail sentence imposed for the crash.

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About the Contributor
Kendan Cartwright
Kendan Cartwright, Staff Writer
Kendan is a sophomore who is new to the Lantern staff. Kendan enjoys covering movies and TV shows and can often be found at Frederick's Board Game Club. When not reporting for the Lantern, they like to hang out with their family, play board games, and watch horror movies.

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