JEFFERSON CITY - Protest rang out during a House committee hearing on a proposed ban on cell phone use by motorists.
"We were ready for you," said Rep. Gracia Backer, D-New Bloomfield, holding up two cell phones that had just finished beeping.
Backer was protesting a bill to stop use of cell phones while driving.
If the bill is approved, violators would face up to a $500 fine and six months in jail. The penalty would double in the event of an accident.
Rep. Marsha Campbell, D-Kansas City, the bill's sponsor, cited research showing that people who talked on a cell phone while driving were four times more likely to be involved in an accident.
"It is a simple little bill," Campbell said. But others questioned how simple it would be to enforce.
"I'm not sure if enforcement of this is going to be workable," said Rep. Carson Ross, R-Blue Springs. "Common sense is something you can't legislate."
Ross said existing laws should be used to clear the roads of people using cell phones irresponsibly.
Doug Gallaway, a lobbyist for Sprint PCS, said the ban would adversely affect 3,000,000 cell phone users in Missouri.
"We believe it punishes those who use it in the proper way," Gallaway said.
Campbell said convenience should not outweigh safety concerns.
"I say it is better to err on the side of public safety than to do nothing," Campbell said.