But some judges say the law passed in 2008 is not clear, so legislation is on the move that specifically prohibits drivers from reading or typing a text, email or other message while their vehicle is in motion.
A Fairbanks judge has advised magistrates to refuse texting cases and a Kenai judge has thrown out a case against a driver for texting.
That case is on appeal. Anchorage Democrat Les Gara told the House Transportation Committee Thursday that lawmakers should not wait for a court ruling before fixing the statute.
“I think you only really need one fact and that is, according to the National Conference on State Legislatures, drivers who text while they drive are 20 times more likely to have an accident than people who don’t text,” Gara said.
Calling it “the new drunk driving,” he says texting while driving has been taken up by the national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
House Bill 255 moved out of the transportation committee Thursday, heading for judiciary.
The legislation states that texting is illegal while the vehicle is underway. Gara said reading or sending a text while parked should not be a crime.
- Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski's roll call vote -- a no -- was barely picked up by the microphone, but it was heard loud and clear across the Capitol.
- Haines is getting ready for a weekend full of music, food and Ferris wheels. The 49th annual Southeast Alaska State Fair takes place Thursday through Sunday.
- Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska broke with their party and opposed the Senate vote to move ahead on health care.
- A good Samaritan vessel and a Coast Guard aircrew rescued four fishermen Monday in Kodiak waters. The fishing vessel Grayling capsized in Kuprean of Strait near Raspberry Island, according to a Coast Guard news release, and the nearby Calista Marie came to their aid.