UPDATE: Assembly committee votes to outlaw headphones while driving, but not earbuds
MADISON (WKOW) -- The Assembly Committee on Transportation passed a bill outlawing the use of headphones while driving a vehicle in Wisconsin, but included an amendment that would exempt earbuds from the ban.
The original version of Assembly Bill 171 would have outlawed the use of both headphones or earbuds while driving, but bill author Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) introduced an amendment last week to remove the language restricting earbuds.
Rep. Spiros said the earbud restriction would have created a conflict with another piece of legislation - AB198 - that the Committee also passed Tuesday.
AB198 would ban people from talking on cell phones while driving in a construction zone.
However, a person can still talk on a phone if using a hands-free option - many of which include the use of earbuds - causing Rep. Spiros to amend AB 171 in order to make the bills match.
Rep. Spiros said law enforcement originally expressed concern to him about headphones, but noticed other states with similar bans also outlawed earbuds.
He said he believes the "jury is still out" on how distracting earbuds truly are compared to headphones.
A person who violates either the headphone or cell phone construction zone prohibition may face a fine of between $20 and $40 for the first offense and $50 to $100 for the second or subsequent conviction within a year.