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Current Iowa law prohibits the use of hand-held electronic communication devices to write, send or view electronic messages while driving. House File 392 will expand that law to prohibit any use of an electronic device while driving.

It will be OK to use an electronic device in a voice-activated or hands-free mode, for members of a public safety agency performing official duties, for health care professionals in the course of emergency situations, for the purpose of receiving safety-related information, for the purpose of reporting an emergency situation, for certain radio operators, for members of a public transit system performing official duties while in a vehicle that is not in motion, for utility maintenance employees or contractors for the purpose of providing utility services and for transportation network company drivers engaged in a prearranged ride while the vehicle is not in motion.

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The bill also makes a violation of that section of law a moving violation, which can be considered for purposes of administrative suspension of a driver’s license or to establish habitual offender status.

An office is required to issue a warning in lieu of a citation for violations that occur during the period of time between the effective date of the bill and Jan. 1, 2022 (this is an error in the bill drafting).

Fines are increased from $45 to $100. If the violation causes serious injury, a court could impose an additional fine of $500 or suspend the person’s license for not more than 90 days, or both. A violation causing a death would allow a court to impose an additional fine of $1,000 or suspend the license for not more than 180 days, or both.

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