House Votes Bill To Penalize Cellphone Use While Drivers

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Driving while using a handheld cellphone could become a traffic violation punishable by a ticket and fine under legislation approved Monday by the state House.

State Rep. Mike Huval, a Republican from Breaux Bridge, got the bill passed with a 55-38 vote after failing to win passage earlier in the legislative session. The bill goes next to the Senate. Huval has two weeks to get it through a Senate committee hearing and floor vote before the session's June 6 deadline for final adjournment.

Amendments adopted in the House ensure that a violation will result only in a citation and fines, no arrests.

Huval said the measure is needed to increase highway safety. He won House passage after recounting stories from friends and colleagues of accidents involving drivers holding cellphones. Drivers using hands-free devices would not be in violation of the proposed law.