More people in Connecticut may be getting snagged by police for chatting on their hand-held cell phones while driving, but state lawmakers worry that not everyone is hanging up.
“We are seeing more and more drivers violating the law,” Rep. Richard Roy, D-Milford, told The Connecticut Post in Sunday’s edition.
Roy, who fought several years for the ban, wants more signs installed on Connecticut’s highways, exit ramps and rest stops, reminding people they cannot drive and talk on a cell phone without a headset or other handsfree device. The fine is currently $100, but first-time offenders can avoid the fine by buying handsfree equipment.
The law first took effect two years ago.
This year, the number of drivers caught chatting while driving without a handsfree device is on track to more than triple, compared to last year’s statistics, according to the state’s Judicial Branch. More than 16,000 drivers had their cases adjudicated in Superior Courts between Jan. 1 and June 30 of this year.
Those ultimately found guilty totaled 6,833. That figure includes 27 bus drivers and 16 drivers under the age of 18, people who are prohibited from using a cell phone even with a handsfree device.
State lawmakers admit they’re unsure whether to leave the $100 fine in place, increase it or even lower it in hopes of encouraging police to step up enforcement. But Rep. Thomas J. Drew, D-Fairfield, said something must be done to curb dangerous behavior on Connecticut’s roads.
“The people are really just blatantly ignoring it and eventually someone’s going to be seriously hurt,” he said. “We have to continue doing what we can to eliminate that unnecessarily risk.”
The new regular legislative session opens in February.
Information from: Connecticut Post, http://www.connpost.com
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