LANSING, Mich – Put the phone down: That’s the goal of bills that moved through the Michigan House on Tuesday.
The bills would make driving and talking or texting on a phone a crime with increasing fines. Under the bills, drivers would still be allowed to use their phones while driving, as long as it is hands-free.
“They serve as a way to encourage better behavior from drivers on our roads and allow our law enforcement to keep those who are driving distracted in check,” said Rep. Mari Manoogian D-Bloomfield Hills.
The bills would also prohibit accessing, reading or posting to a social media site while driving. These bills are a bipartisan effort, but at least one lawmaker claimed that they infringe upon one’s liberty.
“To me, this feels like the big hand of government; they know best, they know what’s best for us,” said Rep. John Reilly (R-Oakland). “Am I alone? Do others feel this chipping away at the foundation of liberty in this country?”
Reilly argument was the minority viewpoint among lawmakers, who see driving as a privilege and not a right.
“I don’t feel we’re taking away personal liberties by telling people you can’t have your phone in your hand,” said Rep. Joe Bellino R-Monroe.
The main bill passed in the Michigan House 75-26.