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Kirkwood decision may give new life to a texting ban in Lake Saint Louis

A proposed ordinance that would have banned adult drivers from electronic messaging or texting while driving a motor vehicle in Lake Saint Louis may not be dead after all.

Alderman John Pellerito (Ward 3), who sponsored the bill that was dropped on May 19, said he plans to discuss the bill again with aldermen. He made the comments in light of Kirkwood’s decision on July 3 to enact a similar bill, although he agreed with police officials that a local law prohibiting texting would be difficult to enforce.

“I don’t know what you (the board) think about that but I’m probably not going to let this thing die,” he said. “I’m going to bring this up in the future. I think this is an important thing for the city to look into and review.”

The ordinance approved in Kirkwood is more stringent than the current state law which prohibits texting only for drivers age 21 and younger. Kirkwood’s bill includes penalties up to a $1,000 fine or six months in jail for drivers caught texting behind the wheel.

Pellerito’s bill was similar. In May, he said the use of electronic devices by drivers is a “safety and health issue” for the city and that the state’s law wasn’t strong enough. His bill would not have restricted the use of cellphones for phone calls and would have allowed texting in emergency situations.

At that time, Mayor Ralph Sidebottom agreed to write a letter asking local state legislators to toughen the state’s statutes regarding texting.  The city plans to send a letter to legislators asking for a stricter law before the next session of the Missouri General Assembly meets in January. But when Kirkwood became the fourth city in St. Louis County to pass its own bill – Manchester, St. John and Florissant have enacted similar bans – Pellerito suggested that it made sense for Lake Saint Louis to follow suit.

He said he plans to discuss the bill with board members at a retreat later this summer.

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