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Police Claim Pennsylvania Texting Ban Is Tough to Enforce

Posted on Dec 05, 2012

At Schmidt Kramer, we have been paying close attention to the Pennsylvania statewide texting ban since many of our clients are victims of distracted driving accidents. A Harrisburg car accident lawyer at our office recently noticed the following news article regarding the difficulty of enforcing the texting ban: 

Police in Irwin, Pennsylvania regularly patrol a congested stretch of Route 30. When they see a driver tapping on their cell phone, they count the taps. If a driver taps his phone more than ten times, they assume the driver is texting and pull him over. 

While unscientific, this method is one of the ways officers identify drivers who are violating the texting ban that has been in effect in Pennsylvania since March 2012. According to many police officers, the law is nearly impossible to enforce. Making and taking calls on a cell phone while driving is legal in Pennsylvania. 

Irwin Police Chief Andrew Lisiecki said, “We’re still seeing the same distracted drivers out there that are texting.  All the driver has to say is, ‘I was punching in a phone number.’ It’s tough to enforce.”

Even when police think they have the grounds to issue a citation for texting and driving, district judges say they regularly dismiss the case in court due to lack of evidence.  Violators often tell the judge they were dialing a phone number or using their GPS—legal activities in Pennsylvania. 

According to Westmoreland County Assistant District Attorney Peter Flanigan, police can obtain search warrants to seize and examine a cell phone.  In addition, cell phone tower records can be used to determine the date and time of text messages and phone calls. Most police officers, however, say that is too much time and effort for a traffic citation.

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a distracted driver, contact a Harrisburg car crash lawyer at (717) 888-8888 for a free case review. You may also download a free copy of our book Who Pays the Bills When You Are Injured in an Automobile Accident? for more information.