MPD Sees Possible Challenges in Enforcing No Texting and Driving Law

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - It's a dangerous habit many of us are guilty of. It's texting and driving and you might soon get a ticket for it.

But local law enforcement agencies might have some trouble cracking down. A bill that bans texting and driving is waiting for Governor Perry to sign it into law.

If it does become law, local authorities said they'll enforce it but they may face some challenges along the way.

If you like staying connected during your daily drive, there's a new roadblock in your way.

A "No texting and driving bill" just passed in the Texas Legislature wants you to keep your hands off the keyboard and your eyes on the road.

"Any laws that help with the problem of distracted driving are welcome," Deputy Chief, Jeff Darr, with the Midland Police Department, said.

The bill bans any form of communication through your phone that requires texting. That includes sending and reading e-mails and instant messages.

But that has people wondering how law enforcement agencies will be able to enforce it.

"We really don't know for sure yet until we start working with the law," Darr said.

He said they'll try to be as accurate as possible.

"Just like any other offenses, it would be by what the officer witnesses," Darr said. "We could also support it by subpoenaing cell phone records."

Dialing a number and using a built in GPS system on the phone is still allowed.

"If someone has a GPS in their hands when you pull them over, they're still going to have that GPS right there," Darr said. "There will be some challenges to it, but I think we will work it the best way we can."

Darr said people don't realize how dangerous distracted driving can be. He said in 2009, 41 people died in texting while driving accidents in Texas and several more were injured.

"There were over 3,000 accidents that year, so it's a huge problem," he said.

A huge problem that this new ban might fix.

Darr said the department hopes drivers will realize this game of Russian Roulette is one you don't want to lose.

"What are you willing to gamble for being able to send a text message? Are you willing to destroy your car? Are you willing to destroy your life or someone else's life?" Darr said. "It's just not worth it."

If the bill is signed and you're caught texting and driving, you could be slapped with a Class C misdemeanor and a $200 fine.