Breaking News
More () »

Missouri distracted driving ban heads to Gov. Parson's desk

Fines would range from $100 to $500 based on the number of offenses.

MISSOURI, USA — A major crackdown on distracted driving in Missouri is expected to soon take effect. A measure is now headed to Governor Mike Parson's desk to ban any driver from holding a cell phone while behind the wheel. The penalties would be costly.

Right now, it's already illegal for drivers under 21 years old to text and drive in Missouri. State lawmakers just passed a measure to make distracted driving illegal for all drivers, no matter their age.

How often have you been heading to your destination only to look over and see the driver next to you chatting or texting away?

"I've driven on I-64 and have been cut off by a lot of texters and I've probably done that myself,” Ryan Pfendelr said.

If we're being honest, who hasn't been tempted to pick up the phone? State lawmakers are hoping to prevent that temptation by making distracted driving illegal.

"Oh, that's great,” Luke Dawson said.

"I think they already do it in Illinois and a lot of states,” David Russell added.

"It's illegal where I grew up in North Carolina,” Pfendeler said.

Missouri and Montana are the only states without bans on texting and driving for adult drivers. Parson will decide whether to sign the measure into law.

If you're caught texting or even holding a phone while driving, then there will be penalties.

"For your first citation, a $100 fine and then it increases if you're a repeat offender within a two-year window,” Nick Chabarria with AAA said.

The fine could go up to $500 if a driver is found to be in violation multiple times within a two-year period.

"In the last decade, we've had more than 800 Missourians die from distracted driving crashes … these are mothers, fathers, sons, daughters that are killed on our roadways … it's all preventable deaths. It's somebody choosing to look at their phone rather than pay attention to the roads,” Chabarria added.

Police would only pull a driver over if that person is found to be in violation of another traffic law, such as speeding.

"This kind of behavior increases both fatal and non-fatal accidents … But we do have a concern about this enforcement of this traffic law, like many traffic laws in the state,” Joe Patterson with the St. Louis County Police Association said.

Patterson says since last year, when county police have tried to pull over drivers for traffic infractions, more than 4,000 drivers have just taken off.

"It becomes very difficult to enforce and apprehend someone when we can't pursue and they're going to run, it's truly become an epidemic. It's putting the motoring public at risk,” he added.

If Parson signs the distracted driving ban, the law will begin on August 28 but police wouldn't write tickets until 2025. That's to give drivers enough time to realize there's a new law on the books.

Before You Leave, Check This Out