Hands-free cell phone law proposed in Colorado; if passed, would be considered a secondary offense

DENVER - Talking on your phone while driving could be a bit more difficult in Colorado.

Next month, lawmakers will debate new legislation requiring hands-free devices for cell phone use.

"Technically, I can be playing Angry Birds on my phone in 5 o'clock traffic," said State Rep. Jovan Melton, D-Aurora, the bill's sponsor. "You could be doing a number of things that don't necessarily constitute texting, and still be within the law."

In 2009, Colorado lawmakers made it illegal for adults to text and drive. That same law also barred minors from using their phones at all while driving.

There are 12 states that allow officers to pull drivers over simply for having their hands on their phone. Even if lawmakers were to pass this legislation, Colorado would not be added to that list, because using your phone with your hands would be considered a secondary offense.

The legislation being debated would allow an officer to pull you over if they see you with your hands on your phone, but only if they also caught you doing something else illegal, such as speeding.

However, the legislation also creates an exception, allowing officers to pull you over in school or construction zones just for having your hands on your phone.

7NEWS wanted to know why lawmakers are going to try to create a hands-free law, if some of the incidents would require officers to catch two illegals acts, instead of one.

"There were a number of concerns around whether or not that would be too burdensome for our law enforcement," said Melton. "Watching through every single person's window to see if they're on their phone just seemed like it might have been a bit more burdensome than what law enforcement was going to be able to handle."

"Would dialing (a) number be in violation of your bill?" asked 7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger.

"Dialing the number, while you're in motion, would be in violation," said Melton.

According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, the 12 states that have hands-free laws, where drivers can be pulled over for having their hands on their phones include:

-California

-Connecticut

-Delaware

-Hawaii

-Illinois

-Maryland

-Nevada

-New Jersey

-New York

-Oregon

-Washington

-West Virginia

It's also illegal to use your hands on your cell phone in Washington, D.C.

As a result of this story, the legislation will change before it gets introduced. The way the bill is currently written, a driver could only get pulled over if the violation is seen by an officer, the officer spots a primary violation (such as speeding) and the violations happen in a school or construction zone. According to Melton, we found a typo; the use of the word "and" instead of "or." The section about school and construction zones is supposed to be written in a way that allows officers to pull the driver over as a primary offense.

Print this article Back to Top