OMG ... 130 texting charges - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

OMG ... 130 texting charges

Few local citations; Police say new law difficult to enforce

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Posted: Friday, October 19, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:59 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

POST FALLS - Few local drivers have been cited under Idaho's texting law that went into effect July 1, but there were 130 statewide during the first three months.

Local law enforcement officials say the law has been difficult to enforce, but supporters argue the statute is still a deterrent and a step toward making roads safer especially with younger drivers who tend to text more.

"This law, as it is written, is nearly impossible to enforce because we cannot tell if someone is texting or dialing," said Kootenai County Sheriff's Office Maj. Ben Wolfinger. "A law must be enforceable to be effective."

That position is echoed by other area law enforcement agencies.

Sen. Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d'Alene, who carried the bill that became law, said the point was also brought up during testimony when the proposal was being bantered by legislators.

"Officers said that typically people are pretty honest about telling what they were doing," Hammond said. "That's how it was believed they could get past (the texting vs. dialing hurdle)."

Hammond said the consensus at the Legislature was that the law will deter many drivers from texting and will be more effective over time with education similar to the way drinking and driving laws have become.

"People used to think that drinking and driving wasn't much of a big deal; now it's a social norm not to do that," Hammond said.

The KCSO and Rathdrum Police had not written any citations under the texting law as of Wednesday. The fine for violators is $85.

"For us, it is a case of just not seeing any violations yet," Rathdrum Police Chief Kevin Fuhr said, adding that he doubts there have been any warnings.

Post Falls and Coeur d'Alene only issued one citation during the first three months of the law and, in both cases, the driver had admitted that texting was a factor in the crashes. Idaho State Police had issued 17 citations statewide as of Wednesday under the law.

According to Idaho's Office of Highway Safety, of the 130 total texting citations statewide between July 1 and Sept. 30, there have been 86 guilty findings. Some charges are still pending.

"That shows the law is working the way it's supposed to," Hammond said of the numbers.

He said the law isn't intended to be a big ticket generator.

"It's more of an opportunity for education that people could be cited," Hammond said.

Post Falls' Sarah Reynolds, who filled up her vehicle with gas on Thursday, said she used to text while driving often, but has cut down to next to nothing since the law went into effect.

"I admit there's times where I've done it, but it's down to a bare minimum," she said. "The law has just reminded me that it just makes common sense to not text while you're driving."

Police praised the state's inattentive driving law that results in a misdemeanor for violators.

"It punishes actual acts that are inattentive in nature, regardless of the reason, whether it be the use of an electronic device or eating a hamburger," Wolfinger said. "Inattentive is inattentive."

Hammond said the new texting law puts another tool in police's toolbox when it comes to how to penalize violators.

"State police told us that sometimes they are hesitant to use the harsher (misdemeanor) penalty," he said.

Post Falls police Capt. Pat Knight said violations under the texting law could be difficult to prove without an admission from the alleged suspect.

Still, police are learning look for visual clues ontexting drivers.

"The ways that we try to differentiate between texting and driving is to observe the individual for a moment before determining to stop or not," Knight said. "I think that you'll see someone who is dialing a number is relatively quick at doing so versus a lengthy text.

"I don't see this as an unenforceable law, just one that could be difficult to prove if push came to shove."

Knight said a law forbidding drivers to use all hand-held devices - similar to statues in many states - would be easier to enforce. However, legislators have refrained from going to that extreme, partially due to Idaho being a mostly rural state.

Dave Carlson, spokesman for the AAA Idaho travel agency, said his organization supports the texting law. He said a time-tested formula for changing dangerous driving behaviors relies on well-written laws, strong public outreach, high visibility enforcement and time similar to DUIs.

AAA concedes that the law will not totally solve the distracted driving problem, but it's a start. The low number of citations during the first three months in some areas is also not a surprise to the agency because an education period and time to recognize texting driving behaviors was anticipated.

"Enforcing the new law will take time and effort," a AAA press release states. "For their part, motorists need to assume responsibility to respect the new law."

Hammond said technology advances will also help when it comes to distracted drivers.

"You can verbally tell your phone to text and it will do it," he said. "Down the road, there will be more and more cars with blue tooth availability and you won't need to pick up a phone."

Meanwhile, efforts are under way to educate drivers, particularly teens, about the dangers of being distracted. Ford held a free hands-on Driving Skills for Life program at Post Falls High on Wednesday in collaboration with the Governor's Highway Safety Association and local police as part of National Teen Driver Safety Week.

"The goal of this program is to teach newly-licensed teens the necessary skills for safe driving beyond what they learn in standard driving education programs," said Heidi Swartzloff, spokeswoman for the program.

A texting-while-driving law was considered during the previous two legislative sessions before Idaho during the last session became the 37th state to prohibit the practice.

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  • JoeIdaho posted at 8:04 am on Thu, Oct 25, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    concerned, I'm appalled to see that you took the side of the communists.

    So; you also need to mandate that no radios get used, because IF you block what I've been doing (SAFELY) for 20 years, I want your radio removed, and the interior of ALL cars needs to be a noise free zone. People pay attention to what they hear on the radio, they sing along, they get upset at news or weather. ALL use of radios needs to be outlawed in moving vehicles, becasue I don't believe in the premise of "momentary adjustments" in a vehicle that's moving at 60 mile per hour.

    Also, being that some of you can't do two things at once, and this can be PROVEN, you need to STOP THE CAR to turn on windshield wipers OR adjust the heat.

    Then, I need to start addressing how a person is allowed to walk on the sidewalks, as many accidents can be avoided by again, controlling what people do, because their actions can obviously hurt other members of the innocent public.
    For that matter, we need to establish parking lot ordinances, because cars get scratches on them when parked, by other people, and this needs addressing. Immediately.

    THIS is why communists haven't gained control; YET.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:26 am on Thu, Oct 25, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Not condoning inattentive driving at all. However there is a BIG difference between momentarily adjusting the heat/AC, radio, etc. than having an intense conversation on the cell phone. ALL cell/text use should be ban AND blocked while vehicle is in motion except for 911 emergency calls.

    If it is THAT important, pull OFF the road.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 7:04 am on Wed, Oct 24, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    WHY did my post get deleted, press?

  • bionic man posted at 4:10 pm on Tue, Oct 23, 2012.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    jeff & joe. let's get it straight. I'm against government control, deal with it on a daily issue. the article is about "texting" and the tickets that have been issued. we have people like "joe" that is opposed to any type of enforcement what-so-ever. most laws applied are for the safety of the common people simply because you can't teach "common sense." people like "joe" think they should be above the law and be allowed to do anything they want to without restrictions.......if that was the case, "joe" meeting you face to face there would be only one outcome...i'd be going home. laws are made to protect people from idiots that can't comprehend the difference between wrong or right. a slight law known as " vicarous liability" exists. not very well applied as many attorney's and judges never get involved with it. joe % jeff, i'll play your games. call me names, whatever, at least i'm the one who is in the background doing the followup and making reccomendations. by the way joe...check your facts on the cell phone development and usage. your 20 + years is way outdated. i've been using them since the 60's. check it cell.....brick cell.....etc. and FYI used them all.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 9:58 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    And actually boobonic, I don't THINK I can "do it all", I actually HAVE driven a car or truck while speaking on a cell phone since they were INVENTED, and have FACTUALLY not hit anyone or caused any accident.
    I am PROOF that you are wrong.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 9:56 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Local, I am also sorry for your accident, I hope things get better for you.

    That being said, teenage drivers have always and WILL always be the most acident prone group of drivers. Their judgement isn't as good as those older, and they do cause the vast majority of accidents, outside of DUI/DWI's.

    And "boobonic", he wants to punish us all over what "might" happen. According to them, the safety nazis, if something seems unsafe, or if someone has the ABILITY to hurt someone else, they shoudl be outlawed.
    'HEY GENIUS....know what the NUMBER ONE cause of ALL aircraft accidents is, and has ALWAYS been?
    FUEL STARVATION. That's right, runnnig out of gas.
    According to you, no one should be able to fly either, huh?
    WHAT incredible intellect (you have).

  • bionic man posted at 1:45 pm on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    local, joe is one of those that thinks he can do it all. sorry for your accident.

    recent post, joe & joe jr are a typical instance that the apple doesn't fall from the tree. purple has it right...can't argue with an idiot

  • localopinion posted at 9:32 am on Mon, Oct 22, 2012.

    localopinion Posts: 44

    I was hit by a sixteen-year-old kid sending a text message. He didnt even see the red light that he drove thru doing 45mph... t-boned me on my drivers side. I fractured my skull and still have TBI as a result. I haven't been able to drive for three months now, still can hardly read/write.

    We already have an inattentive driving law. ... If you are on your phone and driving well, no worries. If you are on your phone and causing problems, you should be punished. Anyhow, it's time for me to go to therapy at St. Lukes ... gotta go. Cheers.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 3:18 pm on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Talk about childlike:
    "you're GONNA crash! For sure! We just KNOW IT! We have no proof, but we THINK this will happen, so what you do should be ILLEGAL!!!!!

    As to using your "words", purple, it was so need to debate more often, losing's your middle name.

  • Purple78 posted at 2:58 pm on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    Purple78 Posts: 21

    In responce to "JoeIdaho"
    WOW how original!!!!! Hahahahaha, you can't even come up your own wording!!! Hahahaha your pathetic, obviously one who will cause a wreck eventually. All I have to say, guess you can't reason with an idiot!! Do us all a favor.......... GO BACK TO SLEEP!

  • JoeIdaho posted at 2:11 pm on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Tell me, "boobonic", go ahead, ANSWER my question:
    Being that I've been DOING THIS for over 20 YEARS, and I can PROVE that I haven't caused an accident or hit anyone, how is it that you know better than I what I am "going to do"?
    Oh yeah, because you're an oblahama supporter. You KNOW what's bets for the public regardless of the facts.
    And the pure DEPTH of your comments, wow, man, I'm in awe.
    "Take your meds"
    "tricycle to the right"
    Now THAT is real philosophy in action.....

  • phredgtsd posted at 11:12 am on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    phredgtsd Posts: 28

    Joe can be Joe Biden's Trike to Work biking buddy. Take your meds Joe.

  • bionic man posted at 9:22 am on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    joe, you've proven by your irrational thinking and comments that you are a danger to all of us the road. remember, keep your tricycle to the right in the bike lane

  • JoeIdaho posted at 9:01 am on Sun, Oct 21, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    IN response to "purple":
    "I'm tired of being in my car paying attention just to have some IDIOT talking to their kids & spouses and playing with their radio, and then turning up the heat in their car, almost hitting me with my dog in the vehicle!!! Keep writing the tickets guys, these idiots who talk in cars & play with their vent systems will get it eventually. They need to remove stick shifts form cars, because HOW can somoene acrtually shift GEARS AND drive at the same time? Unfortunately it will come with the cost of lives before its really taken seriously. You cant get em all but at least its out there now that its going to be a ticket! To all you cry babies who want to listen to the radio & talk with your husband so bad, do us all a favor and pull over to run your neck and mouth! Hopefully they arrest all of you who allow your kids to talk & scream at each other in the back seat"! You're DANGEROUS to society!

  • JoeIdaho posted at 9:44 pm on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Oh, so "bionic" THINKS that he can judge my ABILITY to talk & drive?
    OK, GENIUS, explain to me how I've done it for what...20+ YEARS and haven't hit anyone, caused an accident, etc, but you KNOW I'm "wrong", huh?
    You're a moron, talking about accidents I've "caused", the entire arguent you make is imbecilic, childish, and boorish.
    If you're SO CERTAIN that NONE Of us can multitask; and we all let idiots like this have their way, jujst WATCH our FREDOMS go away. That means no radios in cars, no speaking with another person IN a car, and you need to STOP to turn on your windshield wipers.
    Just because YOU, (Mr "Bionic") can't walk & chew gum doesn't mean the rest of us can't.
    On Law Enforcement "Operations", my friends have been cops for probably longer than you've been alive, and I've spoken with them ad nauseum on this for a long, long time. The NEW enforcement officers are the only ones who swallow the ignorant diatribe you eat about people being incapable; the older ones KNOW that they can actually talk on the radio WHILE they are chasing someone at 100 MPH.
    Of course, they're "multitasking", and SOOOOOO dangerous at it....cuz they're HUMANS too.

  • bionic man posted at 4:01 pm on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    Joe, you know as much about LE operations as my but* does about hemoroid applications. The reason for the extra enforcement is because of idiots like you that they think they can drive and talk. We've all seen it...idiots on the road that think they can multi-task. Don't care whether you;ve had an accident or not, the question would be.????? how many accidents have you caused that you don't know about. Pure and simple...when you drive...that's where your mind set should be. No phones, no texting, etc....pure and simple..PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR DRIVING WHILE YOU ARE ON THE ROAD.

  • JoeIdaho posted at 9:00 am on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    local res, you hit the nail directly on the head.
    Law Enforcement has become, simply, a self perpetuating revenue stream for the government.
    Instead of PROTECTING us, it's all about fleecing us of money, and then saying it's "about safety". There's no reason in the world that ISP has to keep FOUR cars at the spot you're talking about on 95. That's ALL about making money for the State.
    While I fully realize that our good Law Enforcement Men & Women are just doing the job they are told to do; the actual direction of law enforcement across the country is woefully in the wrong direction, and the police involved know it. There is PLENTY of criminal activity to go after; instead we have quotas on how many tickets are written per shift.
    In effect, the ordinary citizen has to "watch out" for the police instead of looking to them in a good light, because the police themselves are being used as revenue generators.
    Me; I'm FOR law enforcement. I'm AGAINST government using it as a means to make money, as it has become self perpetuating, simply.

  • JonUSMC posted at 8:22 am on Sat, Oct 20, 2012.

    JonUSMC Posts: 94

    The police don't see texters because the police are too busy talking on their cell phones while driving!

  • local res posted at 10:51 pm on Fri, Oct 19, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1162

    ISP is the new taxing district for the state of Idaho. They are all about using "big ticket generators" such as the continued construction on HWY 95. Four ISP troopers in a two mile stretch? Really? I go the speed limit but have to wonder why?

  • JoeIdaho posted at 9:16 pm on Fri, Oct 19, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Hey NAS-
    You do look kinda...dead.
    I guess all I'm saying is that I don't buy the one size fits all concept of how to drive a car. There's no doubt in my mind that some peopel are morons, they hit people, drive dumb, etc, BUT that doesn't mean ALL people are like that.
    Me; it's simple, if where I'm driving means I need to pay extreme attention, as in on a busy freeway, on an off or on ramp, at a light, any of that, I wait until I'm driving at road speed, when I can see a good ways in front of me, to make a call, etc. I don't text anybody in a car, while driving, ever.

  • NAS4AH2 posted at 8:48 pm on Fri, Oct 19, 2012.

    NAS4AH2 Posts: 71

    Joe, I'm normally with ya on most stuff, but not entirely on this one. I text and drive, sometimes use a headset; not so much because when I change into a bat... well you catch my drift. It's that one time I glance at the screen or reach for my headset and WHAM... I'm dead... took out countless others too. Oh yeah, haha I'm already dead so I'm covered. But you cracked me up with the radio removal and "silence in the car". good stuff

  • voxpop posted at 5:32 am on Fri, Oct 19, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    You can certainly tell Hammond isn't running for public office any more. He freely displays his ignorance for all to see. What a mindless fool

  • JoeIdaho posted at 5:06 am on Fri, Oct 19, 2012.

    JoeIdaho Posts: 2841

    Got it, government worker. Since YOU think that noone can speak on the phone & drive at the same time, it should be illegal, right?
    I use my phone, in my truck every day, ALL day. I dial and speak with people (on a headset), and never hit anyone, Been doing it since cellphones were first made (yup I'm old....).
    OK, if we're gonna get all draconian, all radios should be removed, and you should not be able to speak to anyone, including the occupants of the cars if the car is underway.

  • votingcountyemployee posted at 4:40 am on Fri, Oct 19, 2012.

    votingcountyemployee Posts: 25

    If they cant tell if someone is texting or dialing, USING your phone while driving should be illegal as well. But don't they already have something called "inattentive driving?" On a daily basis, I see people texting and driving, and its unbelievable. You can tell what the are doing, their head is bent down, and they are swerving in their lane, driving slower than the speed limit. And yes, they are young, but surprising amount of older people as well. It should be a manditory thing that if there is an accident, cell phone records should be checked to see what kind of activity was going on when the wreck happened. I think it is a bigger problem than what people think.

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