Missouri’s New Driving While Texting Law: What You Need to Know
A law that would finally ban using your cell phone without a hands-free device while behind the wheel in Missouri looks like it will eventually become law. Here's what you need to know.
Right now, there is no law prohibiting those over 21 years of age from engaging in cell phone use in Missouri. According to media reports, Missouri is only one of two states that don't have any kind of prohibition on it. That's set to change, as the Siddens Bening Hands-Free Law" has just passed the Missouri legislature. All it needs to become law is Governor Parson's signature.
So what do Missouri drivers need to know about the law if it passes?
First, according to a Missouri Independent article, only hands-free operation of the following devices by a driver. Devices include cell phones, computers, tablets, and other devices capable of displaying or sending video signals. Additionally, drivers are banned from watching movies or streaming videos from in-car devices while driving.
KCTV 5 says drivers will also be prohibited from holding a physical cell phone while driving. The law does make allowances for using cell phone navigation systems and music app functions. KCTV 5 says generally, limited hands-free operation of these devices by the driver will be permitted.
Of course, there are exceptions. The bill does allow exemptions for drivers communicating in emergency situations, law enforcement, for-hire drivers, and those using citizen's band radios.
Fines for infractions of the law will start at $100 and go up from there. Additional penalties including misdemeanor or felony charges could occur if the distracted driver causes a crash that causes significant property damage, injury, or death.
Assuming Governor Parson signs the bill into law, KCTV 5 says it will take effect on August 28, 2023, with fines becoming effective on January 1, 2025. The lag between the law being on the books and the penalties is to give the public enough time to become familiar with the law.
The Missouri Independent says State Senator Greg Razer of Kansas City has seen statistics that 7% of drivers would obey the new law to stop texting and driving.
In my mind, that's about right. Mostly because I think it's a law that should be easy to follow, yet, in real life just seems harder to follow. Razer's opinion is if the law saves a few lives he thinks it's worth it. I'd agree, because while it might be a law we all violate from time to time, the question that a statistic doesn't answer is how often will someone think twice before texting while driving knowing they could get busted? I'd bet, based on my own experience, more than you might think.