Indiana bans almost all phone use for drivers under 21, some legislators unaware

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Indiana's legislature has banned almost all cell phone use for drivers under 21 -- the changes, however, reportedly took some lawmakers by surprise.

According to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, at least four lawmakers weren't aware of the new restrictions. State Rep. Dan Leonard said the bill’s sponsors didn’t mention the ban.

“I learned it on the news, but I didn’t remember that happening,” he told the Journal Gazette. “There seems to be more and more times when people are not being forthright with what’s in their bills.”

The bill – HB 1394 – was signed into law on May 4. It changes parts of the state driving code, but perhaps the most significant section deals with the supervision of probationary drivers. The bill puts drivers under 21 in that category.

In changes enacted last month, drivers under 21 can no longer use a phone in their car for any reason except dialing 911. GPS, texting, and music are all now banned. There isn’t a provision allowing hands-free use.

“It’s sweeping,” Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles spokesperson Josh Gillespie told the newspaper.

State Rep. Ben Smaltz sat on the House committee that heard the bill. He told the newspaper he supported the changes and was aware of its provisions, and added that fatality data for young drivers supports the changes.