A bill expanding the state’s ban on cell phone use while driving is headed to the full House.

Under Rep. Mike Huval’s (R-Breaux Bridge) bill, drivers would be explicitly prohibited from any handheld use of a mobile device while driving, including talking on the phone, dialing or searching for numbers, and taking photos and videos while behind the wheel. The bill also explicitly prohibits posting videos, photos, or other items to social media while driving. In addition, the prohibition of texting would be expanded to include sending messages via Facebook messenger and other web-based text applications.

Rep. Huval says the bill allows drivers to use hands-free devices, including phones mounted to their dashboards or in-car displays.

According to Rep. Huval, the current law only bans texting while driving and the use of a handheld phone in a school zone.

Proposed Cell Phone Bill Changes

Louisiana currently has a law on the books banning texting while driving. Some municipalities have local laws that allow only hands-free calls. Here are some of the updates currently being proposed. (Acronyms are for explanatory purposes and not actual legal terminology).

The bill includes a provision requiring officers who issue citations for cell phone violations to record the “race and ethnicity" of the violator. That information would then be reported to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. The data would then be reported annually to the governor, house speaker, and senate president. According to Rep. Huval, the provision is a safeguard to ensure that law enforcement officers do not use the law as an excuse to profile minority drivers.

The House Transportation Committee reported the bill favorably. It is now pending debate in the full House. Rep. Huval says he expects the full House to take up the bill on Tuesday.

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