No texting and driving citations issued in Pine Belt

No texting and driving citations issued in Pine Belt

LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - UPDATE: We reached out to Senator Billy Hudson (R- Dist. 45), who championed the texting and driving ban for several years, to see if he supported amending the current law to make it more stringent, based on what Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said in the previous story.

"My original bill was a distracted driving bill," Hudson explained. "If you had a phone in your hand for any reason, you were violating the law. We could not get that passed because all those guys up there (legislators) use the phone."

Hudson said the legislature "absolutely" needs to make the texting and driving ban stronger.

"The penalty needs to be more, and it needs to cover more than just texting," Hudson said.

With recent upsets in the primary election Tuesday for several Senate and House districts across the state, the makeup of the legislature will be different come January, but Hudson said he did not think that would prevent a stricter ban from being passed.

Hudson agreed the law is hard to enforce, and told the law enforcement officers who have given zero citations so far to "do the best you can until next year," when he hoped the law would be revisited in the 2016 legislative session.

Law enforcement wants texting ban revised

It's been one month since the texting and driving ban took effect in Mississippi, yet many of the law enforcement offices have not issued a single citation for the act.

Covington, Jones and Lamar County Sheriff's Departments, nor Collins, Hattiesburg or Laurel Police Departments handed out tickets since the law took effect July 1.

Lamar County Sheriff Danny Rigel said his department is enforcing the law, "but it's hard."

"I've talked to several sheriffs, and we're going to talk with our legislators to see if we can put a little more definition into the law," Rigel said.

Rigel said he and other law enforcement officers hope lawmakers will consider amending the existing law to make it more of a "distracted driving" statute, as opposed to just texting behind the wheel.

Supporters of the law say the ban on texting and driving will cause a decline in accidents and fatalities.