A bill that will require motorists to keep their hands on the wheel and not on their cellphone won unanimous approval from the Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Committee on Thursday.
Democratic Sen. Lois Court of Denver rewrote Senate Bill 12 in between its first committee hearing on Jan. 24 and its final committee vote Thursday.
Court told the committee last month that the law would not prohibit the use of a cellphone while driving. The law would apply only when the car is in motion and when a driver is holding a cellphone in his or her hands. It also would apply to other electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, computers, electronic games, cameras and the like.
"To activate it, go for it. Don't be holding it," she said.
While the bill won support from county sheriffs and bicycle and motorcycle aficionados, Court took heat from the committee over the penalties that would be imposed for violations. As introduced, Court's bill would have levied a $300 fine and four points against the driver's license, and higher penalties for subsequent violations.
The version approved by the committee inserted stronger definitions for emergency use and lowered the fines. A first offense would be $50 and two points, a second would be $150 and four points, and a third or subsequent violation would be $300 and also at four points.
The bill now goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee based on its original fiscal analysis and a cost of $20,250 in the first year.