“Moving Weapons” will be illegal if the Senate concurs with a bill that passed the House Tuesday. Anchorage Democrat Les Gara was one of the sponsors of the measure.
“If your car is moving – only if your car is moving – and you’re texting or reading a text while you’re moving – you’re a moving weapon. We know that,” Gara said.
Gara cited a national study that showed a person texting while driving was twenty times more likely to have an accident than an undistracted driver, and another study that found reaction times were slower for people who were texting than for drunks.
The bill makes it a misdemeanor to read or send a text message while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle. The legislature thought they had already made it illegal until several courts around the state began to question the original law. Another sponsor, Republican Bill Thomas of Haines, defended reaffirming the law.
“A misdemeanor is a hell of a lot less than facing a felony for killing somebody. You’re using a weapon and it’s a big old vehicle, like if it was my truck. Lordy, who knows what that thing would do to somebody,” Thomas said.
Opposition to the bill was based on criminalizing an action that has been done by a lot of people. Fairbanks Democrat Scott Kawasaki complained about government restrictions.
“We’ve restricted the ability to fly in a lot of cases. We’ve restricted the ability to perform just regular, everyday legal acts by criminalizing them in statute. I will oppose this bill because I think this is one step too far,” Kawasaki said.
The bill next goes to the Senate for consideration and action before the session adjourns.