The Philadelphia DUI Law Blog

Feds Want Law on Texting at Wheel For Trucks

PA DUI attorneys listen up! This just in on distracted driving laws: The federal government is trying to propose legislation on the issue of commercial drivers who text behind the wheel.

You see, as the legislative scheme currently works, the states typically handle driving laws within the states. But interstate commerce, as any Pennsylvania DUI attorney--or any attorney for that matter-- would know, is a matter where the federal legislature (aka Congress) has some sway on decision making and policy-making.  

And clearly commercial drivers who cross inter-state lines are within this "interstate commerce" jurisdiction. 

The Transportation Department is proposing a law to ban text messaging at the wheel by interstate commercial truck and bus drivers.

This new law comes in the wake of a terrible tragedy in Pennsylvania. Last month, a school bus driver by the name of Frederick Patrick Poust III endangered the lives of 45 children on his bus. He ran through ten stop signs while fiddling with his iPod and cell phone. He eventually slammed into a Honda Civic, killing a passenger in the Civic. 

The sad thing about the Poust case was that he was a repeat offender. As I've mentioned many times in this blog, a repeat DUI offender in Pennsylvania had better hire a good PA DUI lawyer because the stakes are high and the penalties for repeat offenders progressively rise with each offense. But the problem in the Poust case was that ten years ago, when he first crashed into a car and killed toddler Morgan Lee Pena as he was dialing at the wheel, there were no laws against distracted driving. And although he killed someone due to his incompetence and recklessness as a driver, he only received a minor driving citation.

It's hard to say whether these proposed federal laws would apply to someone like Poust, who was only a local bus driver and not an interstate bus driver. The new law, however, could be a monumental step in the right direction; illustrating the urgency of regulations and law banning texting while driving. The proposed legislation would impose civil and possibly criminal penalties on interstate bus or truck drivers of vehicles over 10,000 pounds.   

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