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New Wis. drivers soon can't use cell phones

Published On: Oct 28 2012 11:32:31 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 29 2012 12:20:40 AM CDT

MADISON, Wis. -

There's a new law in Wisconsin that prohibits new drivers from using cell phones.

The law goes into effect Thursday, with fines of $20 to $40 for a first offense and $50 to $100 for a subsequent offense within a year.

According to The Reporter, the law applies to drivers with an instruction permit or probationary license. It also applies to new state residents with fewer than three years of experience and new residents under the age of 21.

Using a cell phone to report an emergency will be permitted under the new law.

Bryant Halverson, owner of New Direction Driving School in Lomira, said the law creates additional safety measures to help law enforcement stop irresponsible drivers.

But instructors like Dan Moon of Four Lakes Driving School in Madison say the new law will be a challenge for teenagers, because cell phones are practically part of their DNA.

"These kids are the first ones going to be faced with this, and if they can set a precedent, it will follow," said Moon.

To many adults, using cell phones on the road is key to their jobs or just habit.

But 15-year-olds like Drake Singleton don't have that habit yet, even though they've had cell phones as long as they can remember.

"It was a long time ago," reflected the Madison Memorial sophomore. "I think fourth grade I got my first phone."

Singleton has plenty of friends, but he says he'll wait to text them in order to avoid being fined.

At least usually.

"I'm not going to say I'm the perfect person, that I'm not ever going to do it," admitted Singleton. "There may be some times where I do it, but I'm not going to do it all the time, because I know it's such a big deal."

Moon is worried that the law will prove tough to enforce. 

Without enforcement, he says his classroom lessons won't carry over to the roads.

"It will create some good habits," said Moon, "but unless it gets enforced and they see their parents doing it or other adults doing it, it's not going to have much effect at all."

As of September, the Governor's Highway Safety Association notes that 32 states and the District of Columbia ban cell phone use by novice drivers.

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