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Feb 6, 2012- Texting Bill Clears W.Va. Senate

By: Michael Hyland
By: Michael Hyland

By a unanimous vote, senators have sent the bill over to the House of Delegates.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP & WSAZ) - The Senate has approved a bill that would allow police to ticket drivers for texting or talking on their cellphones while on the road.

Monday's unanimous vote sends the bill to the House of Delegates, which is considering its own measure to curb distracted driving on West Virginia's roads.

Police could stop drivers seen texting but they would need a primary offense, such as speeding, to stop drivers seen talking on cellphones. Drivers would be allowed to use hands-free technology to make calls or send texts. Police and commercial drivers using radios would be exempt.

Violating the prohibition on texting or talking on handheld cellphones would cost drivers a $50 fine.

The Governors Highway Safety Association has put together this chart to show how laws compare state by state. It breaks down laws about cell phone use generally and texting.

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - The West Virginia Legislature has begun weighing the potential benefits and burdens of testing coal miners for drugs.

Eugene White is a top state mine regulator. He told lawmakers Monday that around 200 of the 5,400 complaints his inspectors checked out last year involved drugs. White said his agency would need more staff, training and resources for a mandatory screening program.

White also noted that no investigation has blamed drugs for the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster. A report from White's agency about the Raleigh County explosion that killed 29 miners is expected at the end of this month.

An industry official cited several recent fatal accidents to urge legislative support of drug testing. Lawmakers were also told that neighboring states have suspended nearly 2,000 miners because of drugs.

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