Local authorities easing motorists into new cell phone law

By Nick Kovatch on January 10 at 6:38am

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It may be a case of old habits dying hard.

It’s been ten days since a new state law went into effect, making it illegal to use a handheld cell phone while driving. But it seems local law enforcement is easing drivers into the change.

Morgan County Sheriff Randy Duvendack says deputies will give most drivers a chance to remember the new law.

“I would hope the guys would start with warning at least as a learning curve unless it’s something so serious or blatant that it causes an accident or almost causes an accident,” says Duvendack. “It has to be something that’s just so outrageous. The officer has his discretion on whether or not to write the ticket. I would hope all law enforcement would have some kind of grace period.”

Duvendack says deputies haven’t seen many people using their cell phones behind the wheel.

“With the snow and drifting I’m sure with my officers it wouldn’t be a high priority for them right now,” says Duvendack. “We’re dealing with other issues. As the weather clears up and the days get longer and we have more visibility to look into cars I’m sure you’ll see more enforcement taking place in the next few months.”

The Jacksonville Police Department has issued two warnings for using a handheld device behind the wheel since January 1st. Jacksonville Police Chief Tony Grootens says there will be a 30 day grace period before tickets are issued.

Once tickets are handed out, it will cost $75 if you’re caught talking on a cell phone while driving. That price jumps to as much as $150 for additional incidents.

Our reporting partners at ABC Newschannel 20 contributed to this story.