ROAD CHANGES: Lawmakers Plan Changes for Drivers

An expanded texting ban and changes to drunk driving punishments are the focus of two bills Iowa senators passed Tuesday. Under current Iowa law, law enforcement officials can only pull over people for texting and driving if they believe drivers also committed another offense. A senate bill would change that to allow authorities to ticket drivers suspected of texting as their primary offense.

Critics, including State Senator Brad Zaun, an Urbandale┬áRepublicans, argued that it doesn’t make sense to just ban drivers from texting. He tried to include a “common sense” clause that would also ban drivers from emailing, posting messages on social media and putting on makeup. Senate President Pam Jochum, a Dubuque Democrat, ruled the provision wasn’t “germane”, meaning it wasn’t specific to the bill. So she didn’t allow Zaun’s amendment to be included to the overall bill.

The senate also passed a bill concerning drunk drivers. Offenders can plead guilty and agree to have an ignition interlock device attached to their car in exchange for a smaller fine. Poorer Iowans would also get a break on the money they would pay, a move supporters say would ensure they could afford to get a restricted temporary license so they can continue to get to work. Critics say it is unfair to have different fee structures for different people based on their income levels.

Both bills now move onto the house for consideration.

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