Cell phone/texting news: Fines for texting & driving in Mississippi continues to rise. Fines under the 2015 law began at $25 but increased to $100 as of July 1, 2016. The law also outlaws social networking by drivers. Gov. Phil Bryant approved the law in March 2015. Ticketing to date reportedly has been light but the increased amount of the fines may provide more incentives for law agencies to penalize distracted drivers.
Mississippi’s statewide distracted driving law continues to allow use of cell phones by drivers, meaning the state likely will continue to revisit electronic distracted driving in future legislative sessions. Law officers often complain the law is too watered down.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol issued 95 texting & driving citations in 2016.
Here are the Current prohibitions:
- Text messaging prohibited for drivers. Social networking while driving also barred. Fine $100.
- Text messaging prohibited for drivers with an intermediate license, a temporary learning permit or a temporary driving permit. Fines up to $500; if accident results, $1,000.
- Bus drivers barred from using a wireless communications device if a minor is on board
The Highway Patrol has lobbied the Senate Highway and Transportation Committee to make texting & driving a criminal offense, not just a civil violation. Local police can’t write tickets for the offense because civil citations and can’t be filed in Municipal Court.. Capt. Johnny Poulos, spokesman for the Highway Patrol stated the distracted driving law needed to be expanded because it only covers a few of the many functions of a smartphone. “You need to broaden (the law) or make it hands free period. If the goal is to prevent and deter behavior, make it hands free.”
Safe Kids Mississippi is pushing for lawmakers to expand the texting & driving law to include no use of handheld cell phones for drivers of all ages.
We at USA Insurance Companies urge you to please keep your cell phones put away while driving. If it is imperative that you speak with someone or send a text message, please pull over and stop your engine.
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