Idaho State Police: Texting while driving ban tough to enforce

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by Stephanie Zepelin

KREM.com

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Updated Sunday, Nov 24 at 9:18 PM

ADA COUNTY -- It has been a year since Idaho signed the texting and driving ban into the books.

Idaho State Police says like all new laws, there is a learning curve for the public and the police.

Now that they have seen some texting and driving cases go to court, they now have a new approach to enforcing the law.

About a year after the law went into effect, ISP says said many people are still doing it.

ISP Corporal Jeff Jayne said it has been tough to enforce, "We really have to work hard to cross our T's and dot our I's with this well-intentioned code that we have now because it is so dangerous."

Even if an officer sees a person texting, that is not enough to build a strong case against them.

"Nine out of 10 times you're going to get a person that will say they weren't texting," said Jayne.

Jayne said it's very difficult to follow through without a confession from the driver, "We can make our cases but they're extremely difficult and without cooperation really from the driver it's a difficult thing to do."

For example if the driver tells law enforcement that they were not texting, then law enforcement is left with limited options.

"Sometimes we can ask consent to look at the wireless device, if they'll allow us to do that," said Jayne.

However, if the driver does not let law enforcement see their phone, it creates more challenges.

"There's nothing we can do. It's your right to do that, and pretty much our investigation is going to be much more difficult from that point on," said Jayne.

Jayne says that a few times he has gone through the process successfully after citing someone for texting while driving.

"It's a 'he said, she said' type situation. And often times the judges are going to want to err on the side of caution, on behalf of the defendant," he said. "So you gotta have a lot of evidence and information for that particular case to make it work."

Jayne says Idaho State Police have responded to injury crashes caused by texting while driving. He said they take texting while driving and distracted driving just as seriously as driving under the influence.

A ticket for texting and driving will cost you $81.50.

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