Midland police talk about enforcing the texting while driving ban

Midland police talk about enforcing the texting while driving ban

MIDLAND, TX (KWES) - Now that texting while driving will soon be illegal in Texas, many of you asked how it will be enforced? We talked to police to answer your questions.

The Midland Police Department (MPD) said they already know the signs of someone doing it and the best way to avoid breaking the law is putting your phone away.

The most common question you had seemed to be, how does a police officer know I'm texting?

"Not being able to stay in their lane, looking up and looking down at their lap, a lot of people have it down on their lap and that's a pretty good indicator that they're texting," said Lt. Joey Garcia with MPD.

Those signs are enough to get you pulled over.

Another popular question, how does a prosecutor prove you were texting while driving?

Midland County District Attorney Laura Nodolf said officer testimony will be heard, dashcam footage will be shown and in extreme circumstances like accidents causing serious bodily injury or death, a warrant will be issued for phone records.

"It takes your attention away from the road," said Garcia. "It only takes a split second for someone to pull out in front of you or for you to not see a stop sign or not see a light change and it can be deadly."

Someone brought up the point of police having laptops in their vehicles. MPD said it's something dangerous they exercise with caution.

"You learn when you can look at your laptop, preferably before you take off driving and before you head towards a call but there's a lot of times they get updates and things happen and it comes across on the laptop so they have to stop and look down at the laptop," said Garcia.

The law only applies to texting, using an app, like GPS, is still legal but Garcia hopes the new law will make drivers want to cut down on all distractions.

"I don't ever think we'll get 100 percent compliance but we just have to do our part and do the best we can in order to hopefully save somebody's life," said Garcia.

Police still cannot search your phone without your consent.

MPD said since the city ordinance banning texting while driving was applied, 17 citations were given, only two were dismissed, 15 pleaded guilty. More than 692 accidents in 2016 were due to distracted driving.

The statewide law goes into effect Sept.1, 2017. First time offenders will be fined $99 and repeat offenders will have to pay $200.

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