Iowa Governor Chet Culver Thursday signed a ban on text messaging while driving that was co-authored by State Representative Curt Hanson of Fairfield.

“After teaching students about responsibility and respect on our roadways for over 40 years, I’m proud that our plan to save lives and prevent accidents was signed by the Governor today,” said Hanson, who won approval of the bill in the Iowa House.  “The bi-partisan effort in the Legislature to craft this sensible compromise will protect young drivers and improve safety for everyone on Iowa’s roadways.”

House File 2456 prohibits the use of all electronic and mobile devices while driving for those under the age of 18.  Persons over 18 may not use a hand-held electronic device to read, write, or send a text message while driving. Violators will be charged with a simple misdemeanor and a $30 fine.  If texting is the cause of an accident that results in serious injury or death, penalties increase up to a $1000 fine and 180 day license suspension.

Law enforcement cannot stop or detain a person only for suspected violations of texting and local governments are not allowed to adopt their own ordinances.  When the new law takes effect on July 1, law enforcement will begin an education campaign and will only write warning citations for the first year before the enhanced penalties and fines begin to apply.