BOISE — Starting July 1st, there will be no texting while driving allowed in the state of Idaho. The Idaho Legislature passed the measure in March. Governor Otter signed the bill in April. That left Idaho drivers with a three month grace period to text and drive.
That period is about to end.
However, many folks still seem uncertain when it comes to how the law will go into effect. On Monday, KTVB took to the streets of Boise to find out what questions drivers have about how police will enforce the ban, and what they'll cite drivers for.
“Can you tell if someone is actually texting, and where do you draw the line?” asked Meridian resident Jody Black.
"When I text, I do it discreetly, and it's always at a stoplight,” confesses Boise resident Kelsey Faith.
Like Black and Faith, many drivers asked KTVB how police will identify and ticket drivers who are texting.
Idaho State Police Trooper Chris Pohanka helped KTVB clear-up some of that confusion.
“If somebody is glancing at a phone and they're not doing anything with it, I wouldn't really do anything with it,” said Trooper Pohanka. “It's the people that are sitting there looking down at their phone while they are texting -- yet they are still cruising down the road -- those are the ones we need to chat with.”
Pohanka says that 'chat' may or may not end with a ticket.
Using GPS while driving
Some may ask 'What about drivers who are use their smart phone to navigate? Are they in violation of the texting while driving law?'
Pohanka says yes.
“Using a map or a GPS -- if they are driving along pretty much focusing on that -- as they are driving along; (it’s) pretty much inattentive driving in my book,” said Pohanka.
What about text to speech?
“Maybe text to speech, is that legal?” asked Faith.
“If you are going to verbally shoot out a text message and your phone does it for you, it shouldn’t be a problem,” Pohanka said.
How and when will you be pulled-over?
If you are caught texting while driving you won’t immediately get pulled over. Pohanka says that's because texting and driving is a secondary offense -- the same as a seatbelt violation. However, Pohanka says those cited will have to pay a fine.
Cell phones and property rights
Drivers do have personal poperty rights when it comes to texting, driving, and the use of cell phones. For example, police officers will sometimes ask drivers to allow them to examine their cell phones to check for recent text messages. However, drivers don't legally have to comply right away.
That's because cell phones are personal property, and officers must obtain a search warrant to examine them. Officers say that doesn’t usually happen unless they are investigating a serious crash with probable cause.