PA 12-67—SB 61

Public Safety and Security Committee

Transportation Committee

Energy and Technology Committee

AN ACT EXEMPTING AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS USING HAND-HELD RADIOS FROM THE PROHIBITION ON USING HAND-HELD MOBILE TELEPHONES AND MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES WHILE DRIVING

SUMMARY: This act exempts the use of a hand-held radio by anyone issued a Federal Communications Commission amateur radio station license (ham operator) from the ban on using hand-held cell phones or mobile electronic devices while driving on a highway. It allows ham operators to use the devices without the limitations that apply to other exempt or authorized users under existing law.

Under existing law, the following are exempt from the ban while performing their official duties: (1) peace officers, firefighters, and ambulance or authorized emergency vehicle drivers and (2) armed forces members operating a military vehicle. Also, drivers, including school bus drivers, may use a hand-held cell phone to communicate about an emergency with an emergency response operator, hospital, health clinic or physician's office, ambulance company, or fire or police department. And school bus drivers may also use the phones or devices to place emergency calls to school officials.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2012

BACKGROUND

Mobile Electronic Device

The law defines a “mobile electronic device” as any hand-held or portable electronic equipment capable of providing data communication between two or more people. It includes text messaging or paging devices, personal digital assistants, laptop computers, video game equipment, digital video disk players, and equipment that takes or transmits digital photographs. It does not include audio equipment or equipment installed in the vehicle to provide (1) navigation, emergency, or other aid to the driver or (2) video entertainment to rear-seat passengers.

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