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Texting while driving ban set to begin

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Cant talk. driving. ttyl, k?

Beginning Thursday, texting while driving will be against the law in Georgia, after the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year.

TiaDae Grey of Lawrenceville said she's never been tempted to text behind the wheel.

"Nothing's that important," she said. "I think it's dumb. It's like reading a book or driving with your eyes closed."

While officials have discussed banning talking on cell phones while driving for years, the texting debate was much more clear-cut and was resolved in a single session. It's just dangerous, officials said.

Cpl. Edwin Ritter with the Gwinnett County Police Department said texting is a distraction just like playing the radio, eating, lighting cigarettes or other activities. Some, he said, are more distracting than others.

"What it boils down to is that if you are going to be distracted from your driving for any reason you really need to pull to the side of the road to handle your business and move on once you're done," he said.

Now, if you fail to pull over before sending a text, you could get a ticket.

Ritter said that there is a grace period for any new law, but once that is up, drivers will be subjected to fines or court appearances.

Police will enforce the law by visual observation or statements during the course of an accident investigation, he said. In the case of an accident, officials can get a subpoena or search warrant, if there is probable cause, especially in the case of a fatal accident.

James Morris of Bethlehem said he has read about some tragic cases caused by texting as he studies for his master's degree in criminal justice.

"People die because of nonsense," he said. "The technology is good but you cannot be driving and texting."