Indiana Texting While Driving Ban Presents Enforcement Nightmare

By Jeff Neumeyer

October 7, 2011 Updated Oct 7, 2011 at 6:18 PM EDT

INDIANA, (Indiana's NewsCenter) --- State troopers and local police are dealing with a roadblock to enforcement of Indiana's new ban on texting while driving.

It’s not that officers are unable to write tickets.

State troopers had issued 57 text-messaging citations as of Friday October 7th.

But when you consider that's the total for every trooper in the state over a period of about 100 days, it’s not a real big number.

You may recall Governor Mitch Daniels signed a law May 11th, which essentially says you can't read, write or send a text message while behind the wheel of a car or truck in Indiana.

If you're caught, you're looking at a fine up to $500.00.

But the same statute also clearly states that an officer, who pulls someone over on suspicion of breaking this law, can't take the phone to verify if a texting violation was, in fact, committed.

Joel Lemmon/ISP Senior Trooper: " Now, if somebody wanted to show me the phone, voluntarily, we could look at the phone, but they'd have to give us the phone. Under the law, the way it's written, a law enforcement officer cannot take the phone as evidence or confiscate it for the purpose of looking to see if they were texting."

Because it's okay to be talking on your cell phone while driving, dialing the phone, or checking a phone contact list, a person confronted about a texting allegation can simply deny that he or she was texting, and be in the clear.

It’s frustrating, because the intent of the law was to cut down on accident risks.

Fort Wayne police officer John Chambers says after an accident where the driver responsible for the mishap is believed to have been texting, police can seek authority from the courts to seize the phone’s records to try and substantiate that texting was involved.

Chambers says city police have issued only one texting while driving citation since the new law went into effect July 1st.




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