Bexley City Council heard the first reading Tuesday night of legislation meant to discourage motorists from sending text messages while driving in the city.

Bexley City Council heard the first reading Tuesday night of legislation meant to discourage motorists from sending text messages while driving in the city.

If council passes the legislation, offenders could be fined $150, sponsor Jed Morison said. However, the legislation likely will be changed before its third and final reading, city attorney Lou Chodosh said.

Morison said it seems like common sense that taking your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road to text message while driving is a disaster waiting to happen. Once the legislation has passed, he intends to follow up with an ordinance to ban the use of cell phones while driving.

"We need to do all we can to prevent accidents from happening," he said.

Council president Matt Lampke said the proposed legislation might raise some questions about First Amendment rights, and he encouraged council to attach to the legislation studies detailing increases in traffic accidents.

Council member Rick Weber asked how state law would affect the Bexley law.

"If ours is more stringent it states we have every right to do that," Chodosh said. "Ours would be the primary ordinance."

Gahanna resident Sharon Montgomery encouraged council to pass the legislation and include cell phones. Her husband died and she sustained life-threatening injuries in a car crash nine years ago involving a driver using a cell phone.

"I have become very well informed on this issue and will be speaking to you more as you consider a local ordinance against driving while texting," she said.

Bexley resident Mike Heniken sent a letter to council encouraging the city not to consider the legislation.

"It concerns me greatly that the Bexley City Council will be spending any amount of time considering the problem of texting while driving," he said, adding the state already has "driving while distracted" restrictions.