Proposed Bill Could Make Cell Phone Use In School Zones More Serious Offense

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Van Buren, Ark. (KFSM) — It’s already against the law to use a cellphone in an Arkansas school zone while children are present unless it’s an emergency, but a local lawmaker wants to make it a more serious offense.

It’s only considered a secondary offense to use your cell phone, texting or handheld in a school zone. This bill would change it to a primary offense.

State Representative Charlene Fite says the bill was inspired by a crossing guard from Prairie Grove who lost her daughter in a tragic accident because of a distracted driver.

“Working as a crossing guard she had to see almost every week incident of near misses with children with someone on their cellphone," said Fite.

Wanting to ensure children’s safety, Fite has authored House Bill 1182.

It would allow police officers to stop or detain a driver in a moving vehicle they suspect is using a cellphone in a school zone for a non-emergency.

Some parents and grandparents picking up children at City Heights Elementary in Van Buren think the bill is a good idea.

Fite says so far she’s received a lot of support for the bill.

The penalty for first-time offenders is $250, but that could double if you’re caught a second time.

Fite has also filed a bill that would double the fines for running a school bus stop sign or passing when lights are flashing.

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