HARRISBURG, Pa. - As of now, you can legally talk on your phone while driving but you can't text, or you'll get a ticket. However, if state lawmakers have their way, both could become illegal.
But there's a twist.
Representative Rosemary Brown, who represents Monroe and Pike Counties, has sponsored a bill making holding a phone in any capacity while driving a crime.
"I wanna make sure that people know that that this is to help minimize distraction," Brown said in a phone interview.
But after a late stage amendment, the final bill minimizes the penalty for texting and makes it a secondary offense. That means an officer could not pull you over for simply holding your phone. They would have to have a better reason like speeding first, unlike how it is now.
Brown is not on board with the change.
"I believe that a primary offense is absolutely necessary to make a very strong statement that we have a true expectation of the driver when they get behind the wheel, that driving is their priority and that the cell phone is not," Brown said.
“Although I am pleased that this legislation was passed by the House, I want to also express my disappointment that this bill was amended to classify adult violations of this potential law as a secondary offense,” Brown said in a news release.
“I value any and all input that my colleagues bring forward during legislative debate, however, while they were voting with good intentions, making a violation of my legislation a secondary offense weakens the bill itself."
Anne Evans from Allentown agrees and says the lesser penalty could lead to more accidents.
"I think the police would have a good reason to stop you if you were on your phone and you shouldn't be," Evans said.
Another concern brought up by lawmakers was police racially profiling drivers.
Lee Brannon, also from Allentown, does not condone texting and driving but says he is happy police won't have as much leeway to pull someone over, especially minorities.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.