To Do: Ban texting while driving for all drivers in city limits

The Enforcement Team will introduce an ordinance to amend Chapter 14 of the City Code of Ordinances to ban texting and driving in the City of Columbia for all drivers. Current state law only prohibits texting while driving for people age 21 or younger.

Enforcement Team completed this task.
Target Date: December 2017


On December 18, 2017, Columbia City Council unanimously adopted an ordinance to amend the existing ordinance on Careful & Prudent Driving (Sec. 14-236). This amendment added a sub-section on distracted driving behavior, which includes any behavior that will take your focus away from the main activity of driving the vehicle.

The Enforcement Team proposed the ordinance in this way for two reasons:

  1. Texting while driving is just one form of distracted driving. We expect to see better results by focusing on all distracted driving behaviors, not just one.
  2. There is a state preemption that prevents municipalities from enacting legislation that would regulate the use of a cell phone.  

How this updated ordinance is enforced:

If an officer encounters a driver exhibiting careless and imprudent driving behaviors (swerving lines, erratic speeds, etc.) they could pull them over and potentially ticket them for that offense. Careless and imprudent driving is a primary offense. If the officer notices that the driver was also demonstrating distracted driving behaviors, they would note that on the citation as a factor that contributed to the careless and imprudent driving. 

At the prosecution level, the driver would be fined for "careless and imprudent driving" and the distracted driving notation is taken into consideration and may result in an increased fine.