New Wisconsin law penalizes cell phone use near accident scenes

Offenders can be charged with a misdemeanor with up to $ 10,000 in fines, nine months in jail, other penalties

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – It’s human nature. When we run into an accident, many slow down to see better. Others take out their cameras; now it’s against Wisconsin law.

Governor Tony Evers signed the bill in early December. State Representative Jesse James, a Republican from Eau Claire who co-wrote the bill, believes making it a felony will prevent drivers from touching their phones and staying safe on the wheel.

Drivers who use their cell phones on the road within 500 feet of an accident site could be subject to a criminal offense. This could be punishable by a fine of up to $ 10,000, nine months in jail, a driving safety course, and 100 to 200 hours of community service.

This law also penalizes drivers who injure others by committing a traffic violation in construction zones, public works or emergency response zones. It does not apply to traffic stops.

Accident viewers can cause more problems on stages, leading to crashes that can sometimes be fatal.

“These crashes, these crashes can be avoided as long as people just pay attention to the road ahead,” James said. ” Its a question of life or death. That’s what it’s about.

James thinks phones play a big role in these crashes. Sgt. Mark Patterson of the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Office agrees; he saw it first hand.

“You notice it’s a lot. Compared to what it was just a few years ago. Everyone should post their photos and video. They have to be the first, ”Patterson said.

Although the bill was enacted on December 6, Patterson has yet to see a change in behavior. He and James both hope that knowing the new law will change that.

“Once people are made aware that the law is in effect, they pay attention to it,” Patterson said.

James hopes this law will save lives.

“The property can always be replaced; life cannot. And you have to remember that, ”James said.

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