Bill discouraging cell phone talking while driving resurfaces

Efforts to pass a piece of legislation inspired by a Southwest High School student are once again under way at the Capitol.

Freshman Donny Harder approached lawmakers last year about introducing a bill to discourage people from using their cell phones while driving. The bill received plenty of publicity and passed two Senate committees last year but never received a vote by the full Senate.

This year, Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-60) and Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-60B) are pushing for passage of the bill. The legislation would double the fine charged for a moving violation if an officer notices the driver is operating a cell phone at the time he or she receives the penalty. The bill allows exceptions for emergency situations, including using a phone to dial 911 or contact medical personnel.

Harder came up with the idea for the bill after a driver talking on his cell phone nearly hit a car Harder in which Harder and his sister were riding. After he attended a legislative committee meeting with his mom, Harder was inspired to change the law.

Dibble said Harder is right to be concerned about the safety of talking on cell phones while driving, calling the high school student's bill a &#8220common-sense policy proposal.”

&#8220While they are a nice convenience, we have a responsibility to make sure the new technology isn't interfering with our safety,” Dibble said in a news release.