Gov. Bryant signs bill to ban texting while driving in Mississippi

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mississippi is now the 45th state to ban texting while driving.

Last week, Gov. Phil Bryant signed House Bill 389 into law, which bans drivers from operating a motor vehicle on a highway while using a hand-held wireless communication device, the bill states.

Gov. Bryant issued a statement through his press secretary, Knox Graham.

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“This law will save lives and everyone needs to know that their loved ones will be protected because of it,” Bryant said.

Two weeks ago, the Item reported that the bill, written by District 64 State Sen. Bill Denny, R, passed with an overwhelming majority in the Mississippi Senate.

The bill bans drivers from composing, sending or reading texts, emails or social media messages, but making and receiving calls remains legal.

Three Mississippi senators, including District 40 State Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R, voted against the bill.

She previously told the Item that while she supports the idea of banning texting while driving, she doesn’t agree with the way the bill was written.

“If we want to truly deter texting and driving, the law should provide for enhanced penalty for anyone of any age if it can be proven that the one causing an accident was texting while driving,” Hill said.

Mississippi Highway Patrol’s Director of Public Relations Lt. Johnny Poulos previously told the Item that the plan is to establish communication lines between law enforcement and motorists so everyone understands how the law works.

The law will go into effect July 1, and those caught texting while driving could receive a $25 fine, which will go up to $100 on July 1, 2016, Graham said.