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Gwinnett police stage texting-while-driving crackdown

DULUTH -- One of the toughest-to-enforce laws in the state was the subject of a two-day undercover crackdown by Gwinnett County police this week.

Gwinnett police on Tuesday and Wednesday performed a crackdown along Pleasant Hill Road with an unmarked SUV and three officers who were positioned to see if motorists texted or transferred data with their cellphone. Gwinnett Police Cpl. Jake Smith said officers caught eight people between 8 a.m. and noon on Tuesday, and nine people between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

The officers used a point-and-shoot camera, and then alerted officers in two marked cars abut a block back.

"It is very difficult to enforce, so our guys thought, 'Let's go out and see what we can catch in an unmarked car,'" Smith said.

At least half of the people who were seen texting while driving said they weren't doing it, Smith said.

A violation results in a $150 fine and one point on a person's driving record.

There are two laws related to cellphone use while driving, HB 23 and SB 360. HB 23 bans both talking on a phone and texting while driving for motorists with a learner's permit under the age of 18. SB 360 bans texting while driving for all motorists no matter their age.

The law states that if a person is manipulating, or transferring data at all, such as email, texting or Internet data, it's a violation, Smith said. That includes GPS devices, if information is being sent or received.

"If you're mounting it to the dash, or looking at from time to time, that's fine," Smith said. "But you can't be fooling with it."

Gwinnett officers write a large bulk of all of the state's texting-while-driving tickets, Smith said.

The Department of Driver Services has recorded 2,052 statewide convictions of the law -- including 28 teenagers -- through June 3, said spokeswoman Susan Sports.

Smith said officers realize the occurence of people texting while driving, especially at red lights, happens virtually all the time. But in a regular patrol car, it's nearly impossible to see if another driver is using their cellphone.

While the law is tough to enforce, Smith said it's also difficult to prove, and many drivers put their phone in their pocket, or said they looked at the radio, hit the brakes and crashed.

Smith said police don't check drivers' phones for a record of information transferred, but some use also isn't recorded if a crash happens before a message is sent.

As for more crackdowns, Smith said giving 17 citations in 11 hours is "pretty telling," but also doesn't mean it will be a regular operation because of the level of manpower needed.

"It may not be a one-time thing," Smith said. "But it's not something we'll do every day either."

Smith said officers may send information collected during the crackdown to the police department's liaison to the capitol ahead of the upcoming legislative session.

Comments

pcjohn 1 year, 4 months ago

So, tell us Jake Smith, do you cite your fellow cops for using their computers while driving? Or, as usual, do you exempt yourselves from the Law and only enforce it against the good people?

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NewsReader 1 year, 4 months ago

A regular operation? I am so glad to see the Gwinnett County Police utilizing their undercover and manpower resources to attack this heinous crime. The reason I am so glad is because that assures me they have no domestic violence issue to address. They have no DUI issue to address. No murder, rape, or assault to address. In fact, the crime wave in Gwinnett has come to such a screeching halt, these officers have little else to do with their time but to capture these dangerous criminals texting while driving.

Are you kidding me? And PCJohn's comment is right on target too. I have seen countless times officers typing on their computer while "not legally parked" as they say, talking on their cell phone and even looking at text messages. It is a "do as I say and not as I do" philosophy. But Officer Jake goes on to say you cannot mess with your GPS device either. Good luck with that Jake. I'll tell you what. When you do something about all of the reckless drivers that engage in putting on eye liner driving down the interstate along with those putting on lipstick, makeup, mashing a pimple, eating a whopper, messing with the radio, reading a book or the news paper, looking at a map...then, I might have a little sympathy for your petty little law. It is a stupid little law that will do nothing to change the behavior of those that are going to continue to actively use their cell phone while driving.

Go find something productive to do, like real police work. You are wasting my tax dollars on this foolishness.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 4 months ago

Are they legally parked when they are behind you at a traffic light and they look up your tag number and then give you a ticket because your bithday is that month, it is late in the month and you don't have a new sticker on your car? What a waste of time, talent, and borders on harrassment. But they aren't texting????

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jjbod1 1 year, 4 months ago

Just for the record, for you who are all so up in arms about this crack down. A very close friend of mine was killed just over a year ago "BY SOMEONE WHO WAS TEXTING AND DRIVING!" I hope they continue to target and fine those idiots! If its that important pull over and do what you need to do.

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R 1 year, 4 months ago

Treat it just like DUI ... Really it's only petty till you, yours or OURS are directly affected.

Just another "victimless" crime with victims.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 3 months ago

I really do agree with you, jjbod1. But I think what is good for the goose is good for the gander. You are absolutely right on about driving and texting.

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Motor76 1 year, 4 months ago

I think it's called doing the right thing. These laws are supposed to protect us...so if we all obey the law we are all protected. Is it that hard to understand NewsReader? 3000 LBS at 55 MPH requires some responsibility to operate, without it death and destruction. Go GCPD...I say great job, besides, if I have to sit behind one more moron at a green light because they didn't see the light change because they gotta be all "in touch" I think I'm gonna SCREAM!!!!

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NewsReader 1 year, 4 months ago

Motor76, you cannot legislate against stupidity. If somebody is stupid enough to drive down the road texting and not paying attention, they're going to do it anyway. There are laws against DUI too, but that doesn't stop irresponsible morons from getting behind the wheel. My point wasn't about whether it was a good idea or not. My point was whether or not it was a monumental waste of our resources, a priority if you will, when we have countless other law breakers committing much more dangerous acts. And just as the person that traps me behind a traffic signal change irritates me equally, I'd say that a lot of that problem was present even before the use of texting on cell phones. These people cannot chew bubble gum and walk at the same time. The texting only exacerbates the problem.

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jjbod1 1 year, 4 months ago

But, the fact that people know they can be busted for drinking and driving cuts the percentage of those who do drastically. If the laws where as strict for texting, yes there would still be those who break the laws, but the mast majority would obey to avoid the aftermath of getting busted.

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pcjohn 1 year, 4 months ago

Jibod, that is complete conjecture on your part.

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R 1 year, 4 months ago

But conjecture optimistically based in logical reason.

Just like locking your car helps keep an honest person honest, while doing nothing to the determined wrongdoer...

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micronmike 1 year, 3 months ago

I can understand your points. I choose to look at it this way. Those 17 people might choose to not text and drive, and it might keep one less accident of the road. The mays and mights go along with all laws and the police force only took one day to address this issue, so to a degree they agree with you. But, they know their actions may or might cause some good down the road.

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NewsReader 1 year, 4 months ago

This argument is a waste of time. You have your opinion - I have mine. Speeding has caused many more deaths than texting while driving ever will, yet the penalty for doing so remains relatively unchanged. Try driving on Atlanta interstates, and see if you don't get run over running at least 10-15 MPH over the speed limit. The speeding laws don't seem to have much of an impact now do they?

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 4 months ago

And we know what opinions are just like. The geezer crowd would seem to suggest that we should be allowed to be as stupid as we wish regardless of the consequences to ourselves and others. According to NHSTA, 1 in 11 highway fatalities is due to distracted driving - 3,092 corpses last year - apparently these lives are of no importance to some.

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NewsReader 1 year, 4 months ago

Pffft! Did you say something?

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Cleanupguy 1 year, 3 months ago

Sorry - I know how annoying those pesky facts are when they get under your dentures.

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SurelyNot 1 year, 3 months ago

NewsReader, you resort to childlike insults when writers don't agree with you. It would be ever so much more adultlike to have real debates or comment exchanges if you would not be a rude person. You obviously cannot tolerate thought different from yours, but you can express yourself with much more potential influence if you take the crass sport out on your fishing pole, golf ball or dart board.

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NewsReader 1 year, 3 months ago

SurelyNot, did ya come over here because you got your panties all in a twist over on the other discussion at [http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2012/dec/14/police-to-increase-patrols-at-local-schools/#c85797][1]? You can either grow up and join the discussion and quit whining or you can leave. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Cleanupguy has proven repeatedly to be a first class moron. Spare me the lecture. Rudeness is the only thing people like him with his multi-personality disorder remotely understands. But don't take my word for it. There are sufficient numbers of others in here that treat him in the same manner and all for the same reasons. We are all tired of his foolishness, his lying, and his stupidity.

But I do appreciate how you came to his defense and attacked me for my response to him. How noble of you. Make no mistake; the “geezer" comment, and that of "dentures", were both directed at me. It was a pitiful excuse of a jab, but it was a jab nonetheless.

BTW, if you want real debate or comment exchange, why don’t you start by answering questions asked of you (starting with this one)? Is it because you are more interested in confrontation than you are in serious debate or comment exchange? Look, I’ll give you the benefit of a doubt, and stop this particular dialog right now.

So, what would you like to discuss?

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SurelyNot 1 year, 3 months ago

If you read my comments you will find that 1. I totally support the position that texting and driving is horrific 2. that police have many other important jobs to do than sitting at a traffic light and using their computer to seek out info on a tag while 3. serious offenders are committing heinous crime throughout our county. And if you would like to discuss something, I think we should begin with all the things that distract drivers and how to combat that: like eating, putting on makeup, talking on the phone, particpating in a party on wheels, etc. ...all which endanger everyone. But I tell you what, NewsReader...a little less arrogance never hurt anyone. Taking on personal attacks toward people whose comments you don't like makes you the confrontational one. Ease off and take yourself a lot less seriously.

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NewsReader 1 year, 3 months ago

That's why I gave you the benefit of a doubt. I apologize if I misinterpreted your comments. As for Cleanupguy? Not so much!

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gwinnettian 1 year, 3 months ago

I think everyone would agree that someone who is texting while driving is less safe than someone who is not texting. However, as I read this statute it does not apply to Navigation Devices, which would render the spokesman's statement a bit of a stretch.

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citized 1 year, 3 months ago

When I see a cop using hishers computer while driving I just beep my horn and take a picture with phone. They can't lie with pictures. Also get car number. Have yet anyone question me.

Bring it on!!!!!!!!!!

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dav 1 year, 3 months ago

I cannot imagine snapping pictures while driving is very safe neither

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Why_not 1 year, 3 months ago

Now, why would you even do that when they aren't breaking the law? What do you hope to prove?

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kspapi 1 year, 3 months ago

Cleanupguy - Talk about pesky facts! When you are intellectually honest and start advocating for the removal of radios and passengers from cars (which are the statistically significant sources of "distraction" in accidents), I'll respect your opinion. Until then, you're just trying to talk over those you disagree with, not arguing with anything more valid than your emotions....

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mugsy 1 year, 3 months ago

Please provide a link for your "facts". Most of these studies extrapolate small amounts of data into the "facts" that fit the author's agenda.

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InTheKno 1 year, 3 months ago

Just to clarify, police officers, firefighters, emt's and public safety officials are exempted from the texting while driving law.

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dav 1 year, 3 months ago

Maybe there is a "texting while driving" course they have to take while in training,like weaving in and out of orange cones while driving and texting

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