Louisiana Texting Laws

Louisiana Distracted Driving Laws

1. Handheld ban for drivers with a learner's permit or intermediate license regardless of age.

2. Ban on all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for bus drivers (Primary Law).

3. Ban on all cell phone (handheld and hands-free) for novice drivers (Primary Law for drivers under 18).

4. Ban on texting for all drivers (Primary Law).

5. Preemption Law prohibits localities from enacting distracted driving bans.

Louisiana Texting Law

Louisiana's Texting While Driving Stand

In 2011, the figures for traffic accidents in Louisiana prove that electronic distracted driving has contributed to 2,788 crashes which have resulted to five fatalities. For four consecutive years, the legislation for distracted driving concerning cell phones has been rejected by Louisiana lawmakers. However, during 2011, the state has upgraded its existing ban for text messaging to primary enforcement. This allows the policemen to cite and stop drivers for the said violation alone. 

In March 12, the Legislature has returned. There was no legislation for distracted driving that has been pre-filed in early February.

Existing prohibitions

Text messaging is prohibited while driving. There is a penalty of $175 for first offense and $500 thereafter. For primary enforcement, drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use wireless devices such as cell phones and computers while behind a wheel. Drivers with intermediate and learner’s licenses may use cell phones through an attached hands-free device.

2009 legislation

Louisiana’s HB 146 strived for a cell phone ban while driving in Louisiana unless a hands-free feature is employed. It also prohibits emailing and text messaging through various devices. In May 18, 2009, this bill was approved by the House Transportation Committee, and was then sent to the House floor for the full debate. On May 27, 2009 the House approved the bill with an amendment that boils down to violations for secondary offense. When the bill was sent to the Senate, it was voluntarily delayed by New Orleans’ Rep. Austin Badon.

2010 legislation

The Louisiana Senate Bill 9 has upgraded the present cell phone law that prohibits text messaging to primary enforcement. It allows law enforcers to cite and stop violators for the said offense. This bill also applies to a wireless device ban for young drivers. There is a penalty of $175 for the first offense and $500 thereafter. Insurance companies are also notified for the said offenses.

The transportation committee submitted the Senate Bill 9 to the full Senate in April 15 and was approved in April 21 by the Senate in a 22/9 vote. On June 2, 2010 the House approved the bill with minor changes. On June 7, 2010 the bill was sent back to the Senate for the final sign-off with 32/0 vote. On June 17, 2010 Gov. Bobby Jindal signed the bill into law, and was in effect in August 15, 2010.

The House Bill 863 prohibits all drivers from using handheld cell phones and texting. It does not include the use of two way radios and mobile phone’s hands-free feature. There is a penalty of $125 with court costs for the primary offense. The distracted driving law was originally intended for commercial vehicle operators; however, it was amended to include all vehicle operators. In April 27, the law was approved in a 12/2 vote by the House of Transportation Committee. However, when the law was sent to the full House and after two votes, it failed to advance and died in May 17.

The House Bill 1235 outlaws all drivers for using electronic communication devices such as cell phones. This is for primary enforcement with a penalty of $100 for the first offense and $150 - $250 thereafter. On April 27, 2010 it was approved in a 12/2 vote by the House Transportation Committee and was then sent to the full House. The House Bill 134 established the liability case. It enforces drivers using handheld mobile devices to assume liabilities for any accident. It is also known as “prima facie”. There was no recorded activity of the said bill after March, 2010.

2011 Legislation

The House Bill 337 required the drivers to practice high degree of caution and to utilize hands-free feature when using their mobile phones. This is for secondary enforcement. There is a penalty of $100 for the first offense and $150 up to $250 thereafter. This bill was rejected in a 5/8 vote by the House Transportation Committee in May 17, 2011.

The House Bill 338 prohibits the drivers from using wireless devices for telecommunication like cell phones and even computers. There is a penalty of $125 with other costs for primary offense. This bill was rejected in 55/33 vote by the House in June 10, 2011.

The House Bill 387 replaces the state law that prohibits a video screen inside a vehicle. It allows video screen inside the vehicle, but should be placed at the back of the driver’s seat. It allows the use of split-view screen where only the passengers can watch video shows. The new bill prohibits the use of video screen that can be seen by the driver while the vehicle is moving. Installation of entertainment video screen that is visible to the driver is strictly not allowed.

Direct access to Bill history, status, etc. is not available in the Louisiana’s legislative site. Their general search page can be used to check the status of texting and cell phone legislation.

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