Penalties can increase for some accidents if using handheld devices

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Senate File 444 was passed in the Iowa Senate this week.  It is a traffic safety bill and has two distinct parts:

Division l- Use of an Electronic Communication device while driving: If a person is using a handheld electronic communication device while driving and causes an accident that results in a homicide or serious injury, it will be considered prima facie evidence of reckless driving, a Class “C” felony. There are exclusions listed in the definition of “handheld” electronic device.

Division II – Statewide Sobriety and Drug Monitoring Program: This division requires the Department of Public Safety to create a statewide sobriety and drug monitoring program for jurisdictions that want to participate. If someone is charged with an offense that involves abuse of alcohol or a controlled substance, a court or officer of a government entity may require the defendant to take a sobriety and drug monitoring program.

Participants who fail to show up for testing or tests positive can be jailed for up to 24 hours pending a hearing. Additionally the magistrate can issue a warrant for the arrest of the participant. The divisions relating to the statewide sobriety and drug monitoring program are repealed July 1, 2022.