August 7, 2012
A year after Indiana was placed under a texting and driving ban, law enforcement agencies remain concerned with distracted driving as a major factor in accidents statewide.
While police agree the ban was a step in raising awareness of the issue of texting and driving, it remains difficult for them to enforce.
Indiana Code 9-21-8-59 states a person may not use a telecommunications device to send or read a text message or email while operating a vehicle. However, an officer does not have the authority to confiscate the device or retain the device as evidence without a warrant, as the device is considered private property.
That leaves officers without the opportunity to prove whether a person was violating the law, and without the chance to issue citations.
Over the last year, Elkhart Police Department has issued five citations. The Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department has issued 16 citations and four warnings. On a state level, the Indiana State Police issued 125 citations and 114 warnings from July 1, 2011, through June 1 this year.