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SANTA FE (AP) — After years of trying, the New Mexico Senate approved Friday a proposal to prohibit texting and checking social media on smartphones while driving in the state.
Senators voted 37-5 on a bill that prohibits drivers — even while at a stop light — from sending or reading a text message and email. It also bans making an Internet search, changing songs on streaming-music apps and making calls from cellphones or other handheld wireless devices while behind the wheel. Users can still make calls with a Bluetooth or headphone set, but they must pull over to dial a number, under the bill.
The proposal calls for a $25 fine for a first violation and $50 for subsequent violations. But it prohibits law enforcement officers from demanding to look at motorists’ smartphones during traffic stops. Sen. Peter Wirth, a Santa Fe Democrat who sponsored the measure, said the problem of distracted drivers has grown and posed a safety hazard on state roads and highways. “You should not be looking down at your phone for any reason other than to summon emergency services.”