It is with supreme frustration that I share this news: The Hands-Free Bill was killed by the House Judiciary Committee. This means that we have to wait for next year’s legislative session to start all over again. And believe me: I will.
I honestly don’t think that the committee members truly understood what they were voting on. They asked questions that seemed unrelated to the measure. Also, they heard misleading testimony.
In a nutshell, this bill (SB19-012) would have made it illegal to hold an electronic mobile device while driving. There were varying levels of fines for people who were busted while using a device. The whole point is that we need to put down our phones and look at the road! However, it does not mean that you “cannot use your phone at all while driving,” as even journalists mistakenly reported.
This bill would have saved lives… especially bikers’ lives.
So, while my blood is hot, allow me to share some Q&A about this bill:
Q. Isn’t already illegal to text and drive in Colorado? Why do we need this law?
A. Yes, it is illegal to text and drive in Colorado. However, cops have testified that the law as it is currently written is UNENFORCABLE. They have to actually see a person texting and driving. Which will be difficult at best for the officer to prove. If asked by the officer if they were texting and driving, a dishonest driver would deny they were texting and thereby get away with it. If police can’t enforce an existing law, we need to fix it so they can make our roads safer.
Q. I need my phone! You want to take away my phone?
A. No, I do not want to take away your phone. This bill does NOT make it illegal to use your phone while driving! It would make it illegal for you to HOLD it while driving. There are LOTS of ways to use your phone without touching it. If you have an iPhone, try this right now without touching your phone. Say, “Siri, call Mom [or some other person you would like to call].” See? I wrote an entire article on hands-free technology at The O’Sullivan Law Firm website. Check it out here: “Hands-Free Devices for Colorado Drivers.”
I promise you that my law firm and Rider Justice are already gearing up to work on this legislation again next year. And while I’m at it: I want to give a shout-out to Susan Dane and Lori Taggart from CORD (Coloradans Organized for Responsible Driving), two amazing leaders who have been working on this legislation for years. They, too, won’t stop fighting to save lives.
How Many Must Die?
I really can’t believe that the House Judiciary Committee chose to kill this bill. How many more people have to die before this becomes a priority? If you want to know how each Representative voted, see below. (And if you feel compelled to call or text them with your thoughts about their vote, that would be fantastic!)
Mike Weissman (D), Chair voted No
Leslie Herod (D), Vice Chair voted No
Adrienne Benavidez (D) voted No
Rod Bockenfeld (R) voted No
Terri Carver (R) voted No
Rochelle Galindo (R) voted No
Serena Gonzales-Gutierrez (D) voted No
Hugh McKean (R) voted No
Dylan Roberts (D) voted Yes
Matt Soper (D) voted No
Kerry Tipper (D) voted No
I promise that I will be back next legislative season to fight for safer roads again.