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New Texting While Driving Laws

Provided by Holly Rehder 

Holly Rehder

I’ve had a lot of questions over the past couple of weeks regarding the new texting while driving law that went into effect on August 28.

Senate Bill 398, which includes the “Siddens Bening Hands Free Law,” went into effect and became law after being passed by the General Assembly and signed by the governor. Under this provision, drivers are prohibited from holding or using a mobile device while operating a vehicle. This includes banning texting, instant messages, email and social media interactions on any electronic device. This does not apply to the use of voice-operated or hands-free features. Drivers are also prohibited from recording, posting, sending or broadcasting video footage. 

There are several provisions creating exceptions for law enforcement, commercial drivers, ride share drivers, accessing apps used for audio broadcasts and digital audio recordings, and for using digital maps for navigational purposes.

I love statistics, so I thought I’d share some of the latest on texting and driving. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) reports that over the last five years, distracted driving, particularly the use of cell phones, is one of the fastest causes of traffic crashes in our state. From 2017 through 2021, 382 fatalities on Missouri roadways have involved a distracted driver. MoDOT also cites a study that says nearly 9 in 10 people engage in some level of smartphone use while driving.

This new provision is what is known as a “secondary” law, meaning that a law enforcement official cannot pull someone over solely for a violation, but can identify it as a violation during other traffic stops. Through the end of 2024, violations of this law will only be issued a warning and not a citation.

I’ll be honest, this is a tough one for me personally. I’ve been pulling over to answer my emails, but even with that, I feel like I’m running more behind than ever. So it’s an adjustment for sure. I know, however, it is much better to be behind on work than to not make it home or to harm someone else along the way.

Senate Bill 398 contained several other provisions related to motor vehicles, including authorization for vehicle dealers to collect sales tax.

Contact MeI always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-2459. You may write to me at Holly Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to or visit

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