Wisconsin Texting Ban in Effect Today

December 1, 2010

Wisconsin Texting Ban in Effect Today

OMG. Wisconsin today joins Minnesota and 29 other states to ban typing text messages while behind the wheel. Here is a breakdown of the new law:

What does the law cover?

While commonly referred to as the state’s “texting ban,” the new law outlaws texting and sending e-mails while driving.

What’s still allowed?

  • Talking on a cell phone.
  • Using a cell phone to dial a number, answer a call, scroll through an address book or other features.
  • Sending a text message or e-mail while stopped at a traffic signal or stopped in congested traffic.
  • Reading a text message or browsing the Internet while driving.
  • Using a global positioning system and amateur radio devices while driving.
  • Sending a voice-activated text message.

Is there a grace period?


How will the law be enforced?

Drivers looking steadily at their laps, weaving or displaying other driving behavior that indicates they are distracted are good indications they’re texting or e-mailing, law enforcement said. The new law is considered a primary offense, so officers can stop drivers for texting or e-mailing alone. To make a stop, according to the Wisconsin State Patrol, a trooper must have a “reasonable and articulable suspicion” a driver is texting, which means the trooper must be able to back up the suspicion in a report or in court. The State Patrol will not ask drivers for their cell phones to verify they were texting before a stop.

What are the penalties?

First-time violators face a $20 to $400 fine, along with having four points assessed on their driving records. Second-time violators face fines of $200 to $800.