Senate Bill No. 79
(By Senators Unger, Plymale, Foster and Klempa)
[Introduced January 11, 2012; 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 unlawful use of a wireless communication device for nonvoice interpersonal communication while operating a motor vehicle on a street or highway; providing definitions; providing exceptions; 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. Unlawful use of a wireless communication device for nonvoice interpersonal communication; definitions; exceptions; penalties.
(a) It is unlawful for any driver while operating a motor vehicle on the roads or highways of this state to manually type or enter multiple letters, numbers, symbols or other text in a wireless communication device, or send or read data in the device, for the purpose of nonvoice interpersonal communication, including texting, e-mailing and instant messaging.
(b) For the purposes of this section, texting means manually entering alphanumeric text into or reading text from an electronic device.
(1) Texting includes, but is 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 retrieval or entry for present or future communication.
(2) Texting does not include:
(A) Reading, selecting or entering a telephone number, an extension number or voice mail retrieval codes and commands into an electronic device for the purpose of initiating or receiving a telephone 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, but not limited to, fleet management systems, dispatching devices, smart phones, citizen band radios or music players for a purpose that is otherwise not prohibited in this section.
(c) For the purposes of this section, electronic devices include, but are not limited to, a cellular telephone, personal digital assistant, pager, computer, or any device used to input, write, send, receive or read text.
(d) This section does not apply to a driver who is:
(1) A law-enforcement, fire service, or emergency medical services professional performing official duties;
(2) Reporting an emergency or criminal or suspicious activity to law-enforcement authorities; or
(3) Not operating a motor vehicle on the travel portion of a public street or highway.
(e) This section does not supersede the provisions restricting texting and cell phone use for drivers under the age of eighteen possessing a level one or level two graduated driver’s license or any more restrictive provisions for drivers of commercial motor vehicles prescribed by the provisions of chapter seventeen-e of this code or federal law or regulation.
(f) Unless a greater penalty is prescribed by this code or federal statute or regulation pertaining to a class of driver, any driver 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. Court costs or other fees may not be assessed for a violation of this section and notwithstanding any other section of this code to the contrary, points may not be entered on any driving record administered by the Division of Motor Vehicles as a result of violation of this section.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish the misdemeanor offense of unlawful use of a wireless communication device for the purposes of nonvoice interpersonal communication while operating a motor vehicle on a street or highway. The bill provides for a $50 fine for anyone convicted of a violation of this section for the first offense and increases the fine for second and third offenses.
§17C-14-15 is new; therefore, underscoring and strike-throughs have been omitted.