Bill to restrict cell phone use by drivers vetoed

GOVERNOR Ralph Torres has vetoed a measure to restrict the use of cell phones by those operating a vehicle.

House Bill 20-8 was introduced by House Minority Leader Edmund Villagomez.

In his veto message, Torres praised the Legislature for its attempt to address public safety concerns related to the “widespread practice of using cellular telephones while operating motor vehicles.”

However, he added, “I must recommend that the Legislature consider the short-sighted nature of the language used in this bill and its applicability in today’s fast-changing age of technology, as well as the necessary exemptions that must be in place for emergency situations.”

Torres said the bill uses restrictive language which must be reexamined.

“First, it is unclear whether the Legislature considered including a proviso in this bill to allow emergency medical responders to use cellular or other mobile electronic devices while performing official duties. This…exemption is necessary for the purpose of providing our medical responders with the tools they need to effectively carry out their duties.

“Secondly, and similarly, the bill does not include an exemption for the making of 911 emergency phone calls.

“Thirdly, instead of including the widely accepted term ‘mobile electronic device,’ this legislation limits the use ‘cellular/mobile telephones’ which narrowly describes the large array of gadgets that encompass multiple capabilities for which we now use to make phone calls and text messages.

“Lastly, the Legislature should also consider expanding the restricted use of ‘cellular/mobile telephones’ to include the other uses of these devices along with talking and texting, such as taking photos, snap chatting, reading or reviewing emails and electronic documents, or even using Facebook which are all features widely used on mobile devices today.

“As it is the purpose of this bill to prevent vehicle accidents while distracted by phone and text-making devices, this legislation must first accurately address the realities of their everyday uses.”

Torres said the Legislature should consider changes in the bill’s language to “keep up with the changing times and make due considerations of situations of emergencies.”

He “respectfully recommends that the Legislature create the necessary amendments…and reintroduce the bill should it see fit to do so.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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