State texting ban takes effect Tuesday

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – It’s tempting, all too common and on Tuesday, it’ll be illegal everywhere in the state.

New Mexico is joining 43 other states in banning texting while driving.

The new law bans drivers from surfing the web, typing on their phone or dialing while behind the wheel, even if they’re just viewing the screen. It does provide exceptions for drivers using hand-free devices to send messages, drivers who pull over to use their cell phone or to summon emergency help.

However, the law does not ban drivers from holding their cell phones to their ear and talking, even though some cities like Albuquerque and Santa Fe already do.

State Police spokesperson Lt. Emmanuel Gutierrez doesn’t expect officers will have a hard time finding people breaking the law.

“As I was driving here to talk you guys I saw numerous individuals driving, looking down, texting, on their keyboard,” Gutierrez said. “I’m sure we’ll have some stings and some operations exactly pertaining to that.”

But how many people will actually get ticketed?

Santa Fe Police officers handed out 478 cell phone citations in 2013, an average of about 1.3 a day.

Albuquerque Police couldn’t get KRQE News 13 updated numbers in time for this story. In 2009, APD wrote about 3100 cell phone tickets, an average of close to 8.5 citations a day.

KRQE News 13 monitored the intersection of San Mateo and Montgomery Monday afternoon and spotted at least 7 people ignoring the city’s cell phone ban.

Gutierrez hopes the statewide texting ban will make the state safer.

“If it’s enforced and once the message gets out to the community,” Gutierrez said.

Drivers caught texting while driving will get a $25 ticket the first time they get caught and a $50 ticket every time after that.

Starting Tuesday only Arizona, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Oklahoma and Texas won’t have a statewide texting while driving ban on the books for all drivers.

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