Missouri state Sen. Bill Stouffer backs new 'distracted driving' charge

Thursday, February 23, 2012 | 7:34 a.m. CST; updated 9:23 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 23, 2012

JEFFERSON CITY — Drivers who are distracted while behind the wheel could be charged with a misdemeanor — even if they haven't broken any other laws — under legislation endorsed by a Missouri Senate committee.

A measure sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer, a Republican from Napton, would create a new traffic offense for people who fail to give "full time and attention" to their driving.

Violators could receive up to 15 days in jail and a $300 fine, with tougher penalties if they're involved in an accident.

Stouffer said the charge could apply to people who text while driving. But he said drivers should still be able to use hands-free devices that allow them to keep their eyes on the road.


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