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MI Senate panel adopts texting-while-driving ban

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By Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wkar/local-wkar-887170.mp3

LANSING, MI –

At the state Capitol, a deal appears close to approve a ban on writing or reading text messages while driving. The state Senate Transportation committee has approved a text-messaging ban.

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The measure would make texting while driving a secondary offense. That means police officers could only write a ticket for violating the texting ban if a driver is stopped for another reason. Negotiations have progressed slowly as lawmakers dealt with objections that the texting ban might be used to harass minority motorists, or would intrude on private behavior.

Republican Senator Jud Gilbert chairs the transportation committee. He says compromises are necessary to win enough votes to send a bill to the governor.

"I think we're better off getting something as a secondary offense, even if we didn't get the primary offense," he says.

There are exceptions in the bill for people reporting crimes or emergencies, and for police and first responders in the line of duty. Negotiators say they're close to a compromise on the fines and points that would be assessed for violating the texting ban.

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