Decatur bans texting while driving

After Chicago, Huntsville, Madison and Plainfield, the city of Decatur becomes the latest city in Illinois  ban texting while driving

As of December 1, motorists are prohibited from exchanging text messages, e-mail messages or browsing the Internet from an electronic device in a vehicle in motion.  The ordinance is a primary offense, meaning police officers will not need another reason to pull over a driver suspected of texting while driving.  Those cited under the ban face up to $296 in fines and court costs and up to 10 days in jail, if convicted.  For a second offense within a year, the maximum fine climbs to $250 without court costs and up to 30 days in jail. For a third offense within a year, the maximum fine is $500 without court costs and up to 90 days in jail.

To the critics who said it would be difficult for police officers to make the difference between dialing and texting, police spokesman Lt. Jonathan Green had this to say:

“The officers are probably going to need a little more time than usual (to observe an offense),” he said. “But when someone is sitting there for a minute or so and they’re still working the key pad and they’re not talking or bringing the phone to their ear, that’s going to give a better indication that it’s probably not a voice conversation.”

As of the end of last week, a few warnings have been given to violators, but no citation had been handed out.

Source: The Decatur Daily, November 28, 2010; WHNT 19 News, December 1, 2010

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