Lawmaker wants texting and driving banned in Ariz.

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- There's a new proposal at the State Capitol to ban texting while driving. The practice is illegal in 44 states, and four other states ban teenage drivers from texting. But in Arizona, the lawmakers who keep rejecting it call a ban unnecessary.

Senator Steve Farley, (D) Tucson, has been outspoken about a bill to ban texting and driving for years. Farley was the first in the country to introduce a texting ban back in 2007, but so far has been unsuccessful. Now he's a bit more optimistic, saying it's only a matter of time.

Farley cited the case of when a DPS officer was hit and killed by a distracted driver. It's been nearly two years since the video captured DPS Officer Tim Huffman's last moments alive. Investigators say Jorge Espinoza had his eyes on his cell phone rather than the I-8 when he crashed into Huffman's patrol car, killing him. The 36-year-old was never convicted of murder. "Even with the video evidence, he got off with a second-degree murder charge and the defense attorney argued it's because we don't have a law," said Farley.

It's a harsh reality for a lawmaker outspoken on the issue of texting and driving. Senator Farley says this particular case is a travesty of justice. He says he's stunned texting and driving is still legal in the state, but is optimistic after a Senate committee recently advanced Senate Bill 1102 that would prohibit sending text messages while driving.

Farley says his bill has fallen on deaf ears for years, but now, with the support of Senator John Kavanagh, there might be hope. The bill was amended, however, to apply only to entering a text message rather than looking at it. Even with that amendment, drivers say texting and driving is still dangerous.

"People have missed turns, and they try to get off the off ramp and things like that, forget to put on their signal light," said driver Manny Garnica.  Farley says the bill still has to be passed by two other committees before reaching the floor, and he fears politics is getting the way of personal safety. "This isn't a partisan issue. We don't have red roads or blue roads we're all on the same roads and we're all facing the same danger," said Farley.