Teen cellphone bill OK’d by House

Fri, 03/13/2009 - 1:30pm
By: The Citizen

Fine reduced, ‘points’ up from first proposal; Bill to close molestation loophole also going to Senate

A bill that would ban all cellphone use by drivers under 18 has passed its first major hurdle.

The measure was approved by the Georgia House of Representatives 138-34 Thursday and will be taken up by the Senate at a later date.

The bill mandates a $50-$100 fine and two point assessment on the driver’s license of any driver under 18 who is convicted of driving while using any wireless telecommunications device.

Unlike the initial proposal, the maximum fine stays the same for subsequent offenses.

The bill retains a 90-day license suspension for any driver found to have been at fault in an auto crash while operating a wireless telecommunications device.

The bill’s primary sponsor is Matt Ramsey, R-Peachtree City, who contends that distractions are the number one cause of auto crashes among teenagers.

Ramsey has said he thinks teens need more driving experience before they should be allowed to use phones behind the wheel. After catching some heat from the Youth Council Serving Fayette County about the bill, Ramsey suggested that young drivers should pull over somewhere safe before making a phone call.

Ramsey initially proposed up to a $175 fine for a first offense and up to $500 for a subsequent offense. But after consulting with groups such as the Youth Council and his fellow legislators, the bill was amended to put more weight on the points system, which can be used to suspend a young driver’s license.

Ramsey noted that the current law is weighted towards using the points against a young driver’s license for various offenses as motivation instead of just a heavy fine. Ultimately that made him comfortable with the changes.

Drivers under 18 who have a “graduated” class D license ban face a license suspension once they accrue four points, although they have one chance to deduct points by attending a defensive driving school.

The idea for the bill came last year when Ramsey had to veer off Peachtree Parkway south of Booth Middle School to accommodate a young driver who served across the center line while texting on a cellphone, Ramsey has said previously.
There was no collision but the experience jarred Ramsey into some research. He found studies that showed teens on cellphones reacted far slower to dangerous situations in a driving simulator when compared to adults.

Ramsey also reported that his bill to close a loophole in child molestation cases also passed the House this week. The new bill would allow for offenders to be charged with child molestation if they conduct a lewd act witnessed by a child over the Internet, Ramsey explained.

The change is necessary because of a law interpretation by the Georgia Supreme Court, which ruled in one case that Georgia’s current child molestation statute requires the offender to be physically present when the act takes place.

Ramsey said such an offense can take place over a webcam, having the same psychological effect on the victim as if it occurred in the same room.

Ramsey said he has worked extremely hard on both bills, along with legislation proposed by Gov. Sonny Perdue, and it was gratifying to see them approved so they can be considered by the Senate.

If either or both bills are approved by the Senate, they must subsequently be signed by Gov. Perdue before becoming law.

login to post comments

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by jayb427 on Wed, 03/18/2009 - 12:21pm.

I have a problem with this law and many like it. Why is driving while using a cell phone only dangerous if young people do it? I have followed many drivers who drove poorly while being on a cell and have probably been guilty of it myself. If a young person gets a ticket their license is suspended. As an adult, I just lose a couple of points and continue to drive. If I fail at my job and get fired I can still drive. If a student fails at school they may not. You can vote for our President at 18, join the army, and decide if you need to take a life of an enemy, but you are not responsible enough to have a beer. We are full of double standards and need to treat everyone equally. If we had laws like this based on race, or geared to the elderly there would be outrage.

Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 03/18/2009 - 12:29pm.

I have driven behind more people my age (69+) trying to drive, talk, and hold on to the phone - creating a hazard on the road, than young people - who seem to have developed a skill at this feat. This practice is an accident waiting to happen - regardless of the age of the person!

Submitted by mysteryman on Sun, 03/15/2009 - 9:44pm.

Bring back the draft, and if these kids are not off to college, the second they hit 18, make it mandatory they report for duty, the last two or three generations of kids in this country have been left to raise themselves, while mommy and daddy get to go out and play. Its no wonder we have incidents like the party shooting last week, for these youngsters have too much time on their hands... Can you hear me now, all the wanna be gangstas, wanna bust a cap??? Cool come on down to the Local Armed Forces Carrer Center... Recruiter for all those lames out there, and they will be glad to accomadate you, heck you will even get yourself a pair of black shiny look a like Timbalands to kick around in, and you might get to travel the world, just might learn somthing along the way, other than listening to the Cronic Album all day, and finding a party to crash on the weekend. Or getting caught driving while talking on the cell phone, as if you had anything pressing to talk about anyway...PEACE

redrooster's picture
Submitted by redrooster on Mon, 03/16/2009 - 4:09pm.

Thank you!

Gene61's picture
Submitted by Gene61 on Sun, 03/15/2009 - 2:08am.

I support the intent of the law, but the fines will only serve to hurt parents as posted by another well informed citizen..Find away to ounish the kids and not the parents, though some of the parents these days lack basic parenting skills. Its more give the kid everything, then wonder way they have no respect for a hard earmed dollar or their parents..

redrooster's picture
Submitted by redrooster on Sun, 03/15/2009 - 9:26am.

Yeah yeah yeah save the children. Understand that this is all about the powers in charge to censor the internet.
This will only be the beginning.
Instead of not supporting the only free information source available to us be a responsible parent and know what your children are doing on the computer.
You wouldn't drop your 10 year old off in downtown Atlanta unsupervised so why would you let them explore the world via the internet unsupervised.
You don't need Mr. Ramsey to protect you and your children that's your job as a father or a mother.
And for the cell phone issue, this law is all about the money just like the new speeding fines on our interstates and state highways that quietly slipped through. So set an example to your children early on as to when and when not to talk on the phone.

matt.barnes's picture
Submitted by matt.barnes on Sat, 03/14/2009 - 4:59pm.

I agree with the spirit of this law. Teens should not be allowed to talk or text while driving. However the punishment is a little off. Fines issued to teens regardless of the offense realistically hurts the parents more than the kid. I think community service is a much more effective way to punish a person who would usually be bailed out by mommy and daddy.

Submitted by ptcmom678 on Mon, 03/16/2009 - 8:06am.

Community service would punish the perpetrator and with all the city layoffs, this could be a really workable idea!

redrooster's picture
Submitted by redrooster on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 8:45pm.

What an idiot. We don't want your help protecting us. Wake up people!
Hefty fines? Some joke defensive driving class to deduct points? Ever been to one of those shams? You can SLEEP through it as long as you PAY! People you had better think about this, all they want is your money, WAKE UP! Your kid going to pay these fines? Suspended license, high insurance rates, driving records that may affect employment? Your children going to ride their bicycle everywhere? All this for talking on the phone?

And to add to the drama, this story has the molestation word thrown in.
America, we get two choices when we vote so it's only a 50/50 chance.

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 9:00pm.

Ramsey has said he thinks teens need more driving experience before they should be allowed to use phones behind the wheel.

How the heck does more driving experience offset distracted driving?

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 2:46pm.

So when a child gets a glimpse of genetalia over teh Internets, that's now classified as "molestation"?

What about this scenario:

Joe and Billie Sue are the parents of little Bobby. Being Republicans, they are therefore tremendous consumers of pornography. They order a streaming video called "Shaving Ryan's Privates" one night. While they are enjoying their video, little Bobby decides he wants a glass of water and goes downstairs to ask Mommy and Daddy for one and HOLY COW WHAT IS THAT!!

Are Joe and Billie Sue now child molestors? why or why not?

Submitted by Dondol on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 2:55pm.

"Being Republicans, they are therefore tremendous consumers of pornography"
I didn't know that Republicans held the monopoly on
Pornography, you obviously don't know the Democrats that I know.
If you did it would make you blush!

Obama's weapon of Choice!

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 4:00pm.

The Republicans don't hold a monopoly on porn consumption by any means, but 8 of the 10 zip codes where the most pornography was purchased were staunchly Republican enclaves!

Porn In The USA

S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 4:08pm.

Your story Debunked Snotts

I will not lower my standards.. So UP YOURS.. Evil


sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 4:13pm.

How very typical of you...using an editorial to "debunk" a fact.

Considering your inability to distinguish fact from opinion, I'm not surprised.

Find it on snopes.com and I'll admit it's debunked. But you can't, so it's not.

S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 4:27pm.

amazes me.. You post "facts" from far left wacko MAMBLA type sites and claim it as fact..
You are the Epitome of the phrase "GARBAGE IN GARBAGE OUT"
Google something else.. I need a laugh..

I will not lower my standards.. So UP YOURS.. Evil


sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 4:50pm.


The research was conducted by a Harvard business school professor and published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Economic Perspectives.

...but you've got a problem with the findings, so you go shootin' the messenger and disparaging the conclusions.

Here's a link to the original research (Adobe reader required): LINK

I look forward to your inevitable fact-free spin.

S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 8:02pm.

Who uses or watches porn.. be it Republican or Democrat.. I just found it fascinating your obsession with throwing garbage out hoping something sticks to someone.. I have to ask you why.. Why such vitriol.. Why the hatred.. Surley you realize that there are just as many slugs on the democrat side of the swamp.. or are you such a sycophant for them that you are incapable of seeing past the donkey ears...?
And by the way one persons study using a very limited set of Parameters’does not facts make.. or then again in your world I guess it does.. I forgot all about that man made global warming stuff.. I forgot how Gore is such an expert on the subject that limited studies using false parameters in SOP..

I will not lower my standards.. So UP YOURS.. Evil


Richard Hobbs's picture
Submitted by Richard Hobbs on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 7:55pm.

A publication called New Scientist has what sounds like a man-bites-dog story, also touted by ABC News (hat tip: Bill Kriebel), under the headline "Porn in the USA: Conservatives Are Biggest Consumers." It turns out there is far less to this than meets the eye--and bizarrely, that becomes clear in the opening paragraphs:

Americans may paint themselves in increasingly bright shades of red and blue, but new research finds one thing that varies little across the nation: the liking for online pornography.
A new nationwide study (pdf) of anonymised credit-card receipts from a major online adult entertainment provider finds little variation in consumption between states.
"When it comes to adult entertainment, it seems people are more the same than different," says Benjamin Edelman at Harvard Business School.
Finally, in paragraph four, we get to the "news":

However, there are some trends to be seen in the data. Those states that do consume the most porn tend to be more conservative and religious than states with lower levels of consumption, the study finds.
"Some of the people who are most outraged turn out to be consumers of the very things they claimed to be outraged by," Edelman says.
You can see why this "finding" appeals to journalists. It is counterintuitive, while at the same time reinforcing a disparaging liberal stereotype of conservatives: that their moralistic attitudes about sex reflect their own repressed desires. Really, though, this is far more compelling as an example of how journalists, egged on by attention-seeking scholars, misuse science by overstating its conclusions to fit their own preconceptions.

A look at the actual study--available here, though ABC omits the link--shows that it is far from conclusive. Edelman used data from only one adult-entertainment company. He concedes that "it is difficult to confirm rigorously that this seller is representative" and makes no evident effort to do so. And contrary to his New Scientist quote, the study tells us nothing about "the people who are most outraged."

Such correlations as he finds are only among states and ZIP codes. New Scientist touts the finding that John McCain carried "eight of the top 10 pornography consuming states" to justify the headline's conclusion that "Conservatives Are Biggest Consumers."

To understand why this is a non sequitur, look at the Census Bureau's report on the black population, and specifically the state-by-state table on page 4. The four states with the most blacks as a percentage of population--Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia--all went for McCain. By Edelman's logic, this would point to the conclusion that blacks are the most reliable GOP voters. The reality, of course, is more complex: Blacks in fact overwhelmingly vote Democratic, and states in the Deep South tend to have both large black populations and very conservative white voters.

A few days after the 2000 election, in his debut column for OpinionJournal.com, Pete du Pont made an observation (with no pretense of scientific rigor) that runs directly counter to Edelman's finding:

In the Oct. 23 New York Times appeared a shaded map of the United States that bore an eerie resemblance to Tuesday night's results. In an article headlined "Technology Sent Wall Street Into Market for Pornography," the map shows by region the percentage of sex movies in the home-video market. Mr. Gore carried the areas with the highest percentages (40% on the West Coast and 37% in New England and the Middle Atlantic states); Mr. Bush carried the area with the lowest percentage (14% in the South), and they split the rest of the country that had middling sex movie percentages.

This may help explain Edelman's findings, such as they are. Back in the 20th century, the home-video market consisted in significant part of rentals and purchases from local retailers. Local laws and mores make retail porn less available in conservative areas--which might also account for their greater consumption of porn online, which gives at least the illusion of privacy.

Indeed, the New York Times article du Pont referenced (the map isn't included in the online version, alas) begins with an anecdote about pay-per-view porn in Utah--which is also the state with the highest rate of subscriptions to Edelman's adult-entertainment provider.

There's another problem with Edelman's study, which New Scientist ignores: the denominator. To calculate the subscription rate, he divides the number of subscriptions in a given state by the total number of residents who have broadband Internet service. He acknowledges the problem with this method, but quickly dismisses it:

In principle, my analysis of subscription patterns to online adult entertainment websites could suffer from reverse causation: That is, interest in adult entertainment could cause users to obtain broadband Internet access, whereas my analysis takes broadband access as given. If users obtain broadband to improve their ability to access adult entertainment, regression estimates would be biased towards zero. Thus, to the extent that my analysis yields correlations that appear to be statistically significant, reverse causation does not taint the significance of the estimates.
This is true only if one assumes that the reverse-causation factor--the tendency to get broadband in order to get porn, rather than for other reasons--is evenly distributed across states. But it seems quite plausible that in states where retail porn is harder to get, a greater number of consumers get broadband in order to get porn. Since the numerator (porn subscribers) is much smaller than the denominator (broadband users), this effect would have a much more pronounced effect on the numerator, and therefore on the differences in rates among states.

Even given all that, however, Edelman's findings don't amount to much, as he explains in the concluding paragraph of his study:

On the whole, these adult entertainment subscription patterns show a remarkable consistency: all but eleven states have between two and three subscribers to this service per thousand broadband households, and all but four have between 1.5 and 3.5. With interest in online adult entertainment relatively constant across regions, there's little sign of a major divide.
Indeed, Utah has only 1.69 subscriptions per thousand people. The Beehive State's population is 2.7 million, according to the latest census estimate. That means the total number of Utahns who subscribe to the porn service Edelman analyzes is less than 5,000--quite a small number on which to conclude that the place is full of moralistic deviants.

My thanks to the James Taranto for this analysis from the Wall Street Journal.

Sniffles, maybe you should think before you type next time. Then again, since you supported Obama, I can see where logic has little to do with your interpretation of facts. Have you got your mortgage reduced yet?

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 8:41pm.

Sniffles, being the resident pisser offer that he is, played this subject like a well tuned violin. On my scale of entertaining blogs, the "red state porn" rates a 7 out of a possible 10. Good job with keeping the carbonunit entertained on this website, it keeps him from looking for it on the streets.

It's not easy being the carbonunit

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 8:57pm.

I reel in not one, but TWO, conservatard editorials in response to my posted link of peer-reviewed research by a Harvard professor and all I get from my fan base is a SEVEN?

Whew, tough crowd tonight!

Gotta love how my detractors have thoroughly "debunked" the study. 5000 porn users per state ain't a big enough sample, nossir.

On a positive note, I managed to dredge Richard Hobbes out of the cesspool he's been marinating in since Obama's electoral near-landslide....we haven't been graced with his very special worldviewpoint in a while.

Sure, he said he'd never EVER reply to one of my posts EVER again, but you know how concepts like "keeping your word" are more than a bit flexible to those who dwell on the extreme right wing fringe of society.

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Sat, 03/14/2009 - 4:13pm.

the entertainment score gets an 8.5. The change is due to the fact that the fishing barrel was indeed enlarged resulting in a surprise catch.

It's not easy being the carbonunit

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Sat, 03/14/2009 - 4:08pm.


S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 8:21pm.

He just likes to toss garbage out at anyone who is ideologically un- pure.. You know not a Drooling Liberal.
Your posting was well researched and FACTUAL again Thanks..

I will not lower my standards.. So UP YOURS.. Evil


S. Lindsey's picture
Submitted by S. Lindsey on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 3:34pm.

by a Bible thumping Right Winged Anti Abortion Homophobe.. That can only explain the "off the wall" comments and "polls" he comes up with.

I will not lower my standards.. So UP YOURS.. Evil


ManofGreatLogic's picture
Submitted by ManofGreatLogic on Fri, 03/13/2009 - 6:26pm.

A lot of you are being quite defensive, but have yet to show proof that the donkey is wrong (I say Donkey because of the donkey avatar).

I know a LOT of conservatives. Most of my good friends are conservative. But they aren't as conservative as they think. Most don't surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ and never attend church. Most are agnostic, drink a lot, use a lot of foul language, and many of them are not the least bit concerned with family values in terms of premarital relations, divorce, etc.

I'm actually not really sure what makes them so conservative, other than they seem to hate immigrants, don't like lazy welfare people (don't blame them on that one), and like country music.

The point is that they aren't all that socially conservative. The Red states lead in teen pregnancy (heck, Palin's story says it all), divorce, etc., so it's no surprise that the red states are the biggest consumers of pornography. No surprise at all.

And another fact: The blue states are fiscally more productive than the red states. If New York and California got back every dollar they send to D.C., then Georgia would be up a creek without a paddle.

Georgia and the rest of the red states are welfare states. It's a fact.

The next time you drive over a new bridge you might want to thank a New Yorker. They probably paid for it.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.