DENVER – Colorado lawmakers are toughening the penalties for texting and driving but also softening the actual law.
You have probably seen the sign on the highway that reads, “New texting law fine increased to $300.” Changes to the law as of June 1 technically makes it legal to text and drive, as long as the driver is not careless.
Denver7 spoke to drivers that had no idea about the changes.
"I thought it was just illegal all the time. Even if you looked like you were texting, you would get pulled over," said Deidre Smith, a driver.
For officers to pull someone over and write a ticket, ultimately sending them to court as part of the new law, there are two required parts.
First, officers must see the driver typing on the phone and second, the officer has to notice careless driving.
By law that means: “driving without due regard for the width, grade, curves, corners, traffic and use of the streets and highways."
Tim Lane, with the Colorado District Attorneys' Council, is one of two that will train officers all over Colorado on the changes.
"So, if it's causing you to veer out of your lane or act in a manner that might not be safe then an officer can pull you over and cite you under this charge," said Lane.
Some drivers we talked to didn’t like leaving it up to the officer's discretion.
"It's a slippery slope, because it's kind of up to the police officer and then you will have to fight that in court," said driver Nick Leblanc.
Lane acknowledges the confusion.
"I think that there may be an unintended side effect to this that has led to individuals feeling like they may be able to text and drive so long as they do it carefully," he said.
He does believe, however, the changes, which include an increased fine, four points against one’s driving record and a day in court, will ultimately deter drivers from texting and driving.