SECTION 1. Section 31-22-30 of the General Laws in Chapter 31-22 entitled "Miscellaneous Rules" is hereby amended to read as follows:
31-22-30. Text messaging while operating a motor vehicle Distracted driving prohibited while operating a motor vehicle.
(a) For purposes of this section, the following terms shallhave the following meanings:
(1) "Driving" means operating a motor vehicle on a public road, including operation while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic light or stop sign, or otherwise, but does not include operating a motor vehicle whenthe vehicle has pulled over to the side of, or off, anactive roadway and has stopped in a location where it can safely remain stationary.
(2) "Hands free" means the manner in which a wireless handsetis operatedfor the purpose of composing, reading, or sending textmessagesbyusing aninternal featureor function, or through an attachmentor addition, including, but not limited to, an earpiece,headset, remote microphone, or short-range wireless connection, therebyallowing the user tooperate saiddevice without the use of hands, except to activate, deactivate, or initiate a feature or function thereof.
(3) "Inoperability" means a motor vehicle that is incapable of being operated or being operated in a safe and prudent manner due to mechanical failure, including, but not limited to, engine overheating or tire failure.
(4) "Motor vehicle" means anyvehicle thatis self-propelled by a motor, including, but not limited to: automobiles, trucks, vans, construction vehicles, etc.
(5) "Person" means any natural person, corporation, unincorporated association, firm, partnership, joint venture, joint stock association, or other entity or business organization of any kind.
(6) "Personal wireless communication device" means a hand-held device through which personalwireless services(commercial mobile services,unlicensed wireless services,andcommon carrier wireless exchange access services) are transmitted, but does not include a globalnavigation satellite receiver used for positioning, emergency notification, or navigation purposes.
(7) "Stopped" means not in motion.
(8) "Text message," also referredto as short messaging service (SMS), means the process by which users send, read, or receive messages on a wireless handset, including text messages, instant messages, electronic messages, or e-mails, in order to communicate with any person or device.
(9) "Use"meanstooperate awireless handsetor apersonalwireless communication device in a manner not consistent with hands-free operation.
(10) "Wireless handset" means a portable electronic or computing device, including cellular mobile telephones and personal digital assistants (PDAs),capable of transmitting data in the form of a text message.
(b) No person shall use a wireless handset or personal wireless communication device to compose, read, or send text messages, or for any other purpose while driving a motor vehicle on any public street or public highway within the state of Rhode Island except for.
(c) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (b), this section shall not be construed to prohibit the use of any wireless handset or personalwireless communication device by:
(1) Any law enforcement, public safety or police officers, emergency services officials, first aid, emergencymedical technicians and personnel, andfire safetyofficials in the performance of duties arising out of, and in the course of, their employment as such;
(2) A person using a wireless handset to contact an individual listed in subsection (c)(b) (1);
(3) A person using a wireless handsetor personal wireless communication device inside a motor vehicle while such motor vehicle is parked, standing, or stopped and is removed from the flow of traffic, in accordance with applicable laws, rules, or ordinances, or is stopped due to the inoperability of such motor vehicle; or
(4) A person activating, viewing, or deactivating a global positioning or navigation device or a global positioning or navigation application while the handset is mounted or otherwise affixed to the vehicle to allow for hands-free operation.
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(d)(c)Nothing in this sectionshall be construedtoprohibit apersondriving a motor vehicle from utilizing a hands-free wireless handset.
The nonemergency use by pilot/escort vehicle drivers of portable electronic devices is prohibited.
(e)(d) Anyperson whoviolates anyof the provisions of this sectionshall, upon conviction, be subject to a fine of one hundred dollars ($100), or a license suspension for up to thirty (30) days, or both; for a second conviction a person shall be subject to a fine of one hundred fifty dollars ($150), or a license suspension for up to three (3) months, or both; and for a third or subsequent conviction a person shall be subject to a fine of two hundred fifty dollars ($250), or a license suspension for up to six (6) months, or both. All violations arising out of this section shall be heard in the Rhode Island traffic tribunal.
SECTION 2. This act shalltake effect upon passage.
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BY THE LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL
A N A C T
RELATING TO MOTOR AND OTHER VEHICLES – MISCELLANEOUS RULES
This actwould clarify that the use of a wireless communication device for the purpose of navigation must be while the device is mounted or otherwise affixed to the vehicle andnot held in the motorist's hand.
This act would take effect upon passage. ======== LC001153 ========
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