WI lawmakers look to make it illegal to hold a phone while driving

Published: Oct. 22, 2019 at 5:23 PM CDT
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If you've been behind the wheel lately, you might notice more people with their eyes and their hands on their phones while driving.

In 2010, Wisconsin made it illegal to text and drive. Now, some lawmakers want to make it illegal to hold a phone while driving.

According to the Department of Transportation, more than 3,000 people were killed in 2017 due to distracted driving.

A hands-free cell phone driving legislation was introduced Tuesday and waiting to be referred to committee.

State Representative Warren Petryk signed on as a co-author to legislation introduced by Representative John Spiros and Senator Van Wanggaard that would ban the use of cell phones while driving with exceptions for use of hands-free devices or to report an emergency.

“No human life is worth anything like a simple text that would put anybody in jeopardy,” said Petryk.

Lieutenant Les Mlsna with the Wisconsin State Patrol says driving with a hands-free option can be beneficial for all drivers.

“We want everyone to get from point A to point B safely and you can do that by paying attention,” said Mlsna.

Back in 2010, Wisconsin banned the practice of texting while driving. Since then, Wisconsin has expanded its laws regarding texting while driving. No driver may now use a hand-held mobile device when driving through a work zone. In addition, hand-held or hands-free cell phone use is against the law for anyone operating under a probationary license or instruction permit. Tickets for inattentive driving including fines and four demerit points.

If this becomes a law in the state, Petryk said it would bring Wisconsin in line with its neighbor Minnesota, which recently passed this law, and 19 other states.

Petryk hopes this can take effect as early as January 2020.

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