YOU AND THE LAW™: As of August 1, 2014, you can now be fined $175.00 for talking on a phone while driving through a school zone. Up to $500.00 for subsequent offenses.
Section 1. R.S. 32:300.8 is hereby enacted to read as follows:
§300.8. Use of wireless telecommunications devices in school zones prohibited;
A. As used in this Section, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed to them in this Section, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning:
(1) “Wireless telecommunications device” means a cellular telephone, a text14 messaging device, a personal digital assistant, a stand-alone computer, or any other
substantially similar wireless device that is readily removable from the vehicle and is used to write, send, or read text or data through manual input.
A “wireless telecommunications device” shall not include any device or component that is permanently affixed to a motor vehicle. It does not include a hands-free wireless telephone, an electronic communication device used hands-free, citizens band radios, citizens band radio hybrids, commercial two-way radio communications devices, two-way radio transmitters or receivers used by licensees of the Federal Communication Commission in the Amateur Radio Service, or electronic communication devices with a push-to-talk function.
(2) “Engage in a call” means talking or listening on a wireless telecommunications device.
(3) “Write, send, or read a text-based communication” means using a wireless telecommunications device to manually communicate with any person by using a text-based communication including but not limited to a text message, instant message, or electronic mail.
(4) “Access, read, or post to a social networking site” means using a wireless telecommunications device to access, read, or post on such device to anyweb-based service that allows individuals to construct a profile within a bounded system, articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and communicate with other members of the site.
B. Except as provided in Subsection C of this Section, no person shall operate any wireless telecommunications device while operating a motor vehicle upon any public road or highway during the posted hours within a school zone on such public road or highway. Operating a wireless telecommunications device shall include:
(1) Engaging in a call.
(2) Writing, sending, or reading a text-based communication.
(3) Accessing, reading, or posting to a social networking site.
C. The provisions of Subsection B of this Section shall not apply to a person who uses a wireless telecommunications device and does any of the following:
(1) Reports a traffic collision, medical emergency, or serious road hazard.
(2) Reports a situation in which the person believes his personal safety is in jeopardy.
(3) Reports or averts the perpetration or potential perpetration of a criminal act against the driver or another person.
(4) Operates a wireless telecommunications device while the motor vehicle is lawfully parked.
(5) Uses a wireless telecommunications device in an official capacity as an operator of an authorized emergency vehicle.
D.(1) Any violation of this Section shall constitute a moving violation.
(2)(a) The first violation of the provisions of this Section shall be punishable by a fine of not more than one hundred seventy-five dollars.
(b) Each subsequent violation shall be punishable by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars.
(c) If a person is involved in a collision at the time of the violation, then the fine shall be equal to double the amount of the standard fine imposed in this
Subsection and the law enforcement officer investigating the collision shall indicate on the written accident report that the person was using a wireless telecommunications device at the time of the collision.
(3) It shall be an affirmative defense against an alleged violation for the person to produce documentary or other evidence that the wireless telecommunications device that is the basis of the alleged violation was used for emergency purposes as provided in Subsection C of this Section.
E. The provisions of this Section shall only apply within a school zone upon a public road or highway during posted hours when signs are located in a visible manner in each direction that indicate the use of a hand-held wireless communications device is prohibited while operating a motor vehicle.