Colorado bars texting by drivers |

Colorado bars texting by drivers

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

FORT COLLINS, Colo. ” Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter has signed a bill making it illegal to text while driving.

The law will be much stricter for drivers under 18 because they will also be prohibited from talking on handheld cell phones while driving. Hands-free devices are allowed, and there are exceptions for emergencies.

Drivers older than 18 can still talk on handheld cell phones.

The text message ban takes effect in December. Drivers could be fined $50 for texting while they drive.

Ritter signed the bill Monday in Fort Collins, where 9-year-old Erica Forney died on Thanksgiving, two days after being struck by a driver who was talking on her cell phone. The driver, Michelle Smith, pleaded guilty in March to misdemeanor careless driving resulting in death.

Smith’s plea deal called for two years of probation, a $300 fine and 150 hours of community service. She was also ordered to write a letter of apology to Forney’s family.

At least a dozen states and the District of Columbia have laws that ban the practice or that take effect this year. Text message bans also await governors’ signatures in Illinois and Tennessee.

The governor also signed dozens of other bills, including a measure allowing parents to take time off from work to attend school activities and imposing a state sales tax on cigarettes for the next two years, which would mean an extra 15 cents on a $5 pack.

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