Senate Bill No. 209
(By Senators Unger, Klempa, K. Facemyer, Jenkins,
Plymale, Foster, Snyder, Browning, McCabe, Stollings, Palumbo, Minard, Williams, Yost, Sypolt, Barnes and Kessler(Acting President))
[Introduced January 19, 2011; referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure; and then to the Committee on the Judiciary.]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §17C-14-15, relating to establishing the misdemeanor offense of operating a motor vehicle while sending, reading or receiving a text message; providing exceptions; providing definitions; and establishing misdemeanor criminal penalties.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §17C-14-15, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 14. MISCELLANEOUS RULES.
§17C-14-15. Writing, sending or reading a text message by means of a wireless communications device while driving unlawful; definitions; exceptions; penalties.
(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b) of this section, a person may not operate a motor vehicle while writing, sending or reading a text message by means of a wireless communications device.
(b) The provisions of this section do not apply to a driver who is writing, sending or reading a text message by means of a wireless communications device while operating a motor vehicle when:
(1) The driver is writing, sending or reading a text message by means of a wireless communications device when is necessary for the driver to contact law-enforcement officials or other emergency services ; or
(2) Acting in the course and scope of his or her employment as an emergency services personnel, the driver is responding to an emergency situation while operating an authorized emergency vehicle, as defined in section six, article one of this chapter.
(c) The provisions of this section do not apply to any person under the age of eighteen with a level one or level two graduated driver’s license who operates a motor vehicle pursuant to section three-a, article two, chapter seventeen-b of this code.
(d) As used in this section:
(1) “Driving” or “operating a motor vehicle” means operating a motor vehicle, with the motor running, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays, but does not include operating a motor vehicle when the driver moved the vehicle to the side of, or off, a highway and halted in a location where the vehicle can safely remain stationary;
(2) “Electronic device” means and includes, but is not limited to, a cellular telephone, personal digital assistant, pager, computer, or any other device used to input, write, send, receive, or read text. An “electronic device” does not include:
(A) Voice radios, mobile radios, land mobile radios, commercial mobile radios or two-way radios with the capability to transmit and receive voice transmissions utilizing a “push to talk” or “press to transmit” function; or
(B) Other voice radios used by a law-enforcement officer, an emergency services provider, an employee or agent of public safety organizations, first responders, Amateur Radio Operators(HAM) licensed by the Federal Communications Commission and school bus operators;
(3) “Writing, sending or reading a text message by means of a wireless communications device” means manually entering alphanumeric text into, or reading text from, an electronic device, including, but not limited to, short message service, e-mailing, instant messaging, a command or request to access a World Wide Web page, or engaging in any other form of electronic text revival or entry, for present or future communication, but does not include:
(A) Reading, selecting or entering a telephone number, an extension number, or voicemail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device for the purpose of initiating or receiving a phone call or using voice commands to initiate or receive a telephone call;
(B) Inputting, selecting, or reading information on a global positioning system or navigation system; or
(C) Using a device capable of performing multiple functions, including fleet management systems, dispatching devices, smart phones, citizens band radios, music players, for a purpose that is not otherwise prohibited in this section.
(e) Any person who violates the provisions of subsection (a) of this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall for a first offense be fined $50; for a second offense be fined $100; and for a third or subsequent offense be fined $200. No court costs or other fees shall be assessed for a violation of subsection (a).
(f) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code to the contrary, points may not be entered on any driver’s record maintained by the Division of Motor Vehicles as a result of a violation of this section.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create the misdemeanor offense of operating a motor vehicle while writing, sending or reading a text message by means of a wireless communications device.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.