Meridian passes texting while driving and spice bans

Meridian passes texting while driving and spice bans


by Nishi Gupta


Posted on October 12, 2010 at 4:30 PM

Updated Thursday, Dec 5 at 12:03 PM

MERIDIAN -- In one night Meridian passed two new laws: one bans texting while driving, the other bans spice.

And police are ready to enforce both.

Tuesday night, city leaders unanimously voted to pass both measures. There were some who disagreed, but ultimately city leaders felt public safety would be enhanced.

"These are not silver bullets. They are not the one and only thing that will protect us, change us, save us," said Meridian Mayor Tammy de Weerd.

City officials see the new laws as a start to keeping their community safer.

A ban to discourage texting while driving failed to pass in the state legislature but had unanimous support in the council's chambers.

Last December, Meridian teen Kassy Kerfoot died after texting in the car.

In her memory, the council called the new city ban Kassy's law.

Her mother was overcome with emotion

"I just want to thank you, all of you," Liz Catherman said as she addressed the council Tuesday night.

For the first and second offense you could be ticketed for an infraction and given a $75 fine.

Caught a third time it's a misdemeanor:  up to $300 and up to 90 days in jail.

Kassy's mother hopes everyone, especially teens, will learn from her daughter before that happens.

"Hopefully it will make them stop and think twice, you know this was my friend, and hopefully they show respect for Kassy and just hang up and drive focus on what you're doing in your car," said Catherman.

The other new law makes spice illegal.

Meridian police officers say it's a real problem in the community. They've seen kids on it, even taken some to the hospital.

Anyone caught selling it, using it, sharing it, or even possessing it will get arrested and face a misdemeanor.

The penalty will be up to $300 and possibly as much as 6 months in jail.

"First thing we're going to do tomorrow is come up with a plan and start going door to door to the businesses and explain to them that is no longer legal in the city of Meridian, you have an x number of days to get it out of your stores and help them dispose of it in any way we can," Chief Jeff Lavey of Meridian Police Department.

The Governor is expected to pass a statewide spice ban on Friday.

Meridian's will go into effect on Monday.

The reason they've passed their own ban is they're concerned the state ban could be challenged in court.

The texting while driving ban will start November 1st but the police department will warn residents for a month. They will start enforcing it in December.

Meridian is not the only city considering its own spice ban.

Boise is also drafting one and city leaders could vote on that as early as next week.