Police: Texting while driving difficult to prove

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

STEELE, MO (KAIT) - Pulling out your cellphone to send or read a text message is illegal in Arkansas for anyone but in Missouri the law is a little different!

"I see it all the time.  You'll drive by and see the lights from their phone through the window," said 17-year-old Ariel Ivie.

In Missouri drivers 21 and younger are banned from texting behind the wheel.

"They've got to actually visually look down at their cell phone which takes their eyes off the road way," said Steele Police Chief Billy Joe Stanfield.

This past weekend lawmakers in Missouri decided not to move forward with a law banning everyone because of too many unanswered questions about enforcing the law.

"The law itself is a difficult law to enforce," said Stanfield.

Stanfield said he would have liked to see the law banning texting extended to include all drivers and agrees it is very hard to prove and to punish.

"If a law enforcement officer sees someone holding their cell phone while driving does that necessarily mean that they're texting or they're dialing a number to call someone?," said Stanfield.

Stanfield said if they see a phone in your hand and suspect you are texting they have probable cause to pull you over!

"You can't enforce that law unless you take their phone from them to see that they are texting to see that they've received a message during the time that they were driving," said Ivie.

"Unless they voluntarily give us their phone for us to look at it and see if they were actually texting at the time we can't take the phone from them," said Stanfield.

The law doesn't seem to have a big impact on teens.  Some say texting is still happening on the roadways!

"Some of them do, some of them will hand the phone over and ask you to text," said Ivie.

The National Safety Council estimates 28% of crashes are caused by cell phone use either talking or texting!

"If someone is using their phone for texting and they get distracted by using their phone they can swerve across the center line," said Stanfield.

Chief Stanfield said it can be dangerous for the driver and passengers, but also dangerous for anyone else who happens to get into the path of that vehicle.

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