Colorado State Patrol is cracking down on texting and driving this weekend. They are running extra patrols to try to catch people using their cell phones while driving. A few years ago, Colorado passed a law the prohibits all drivers from texting and emailing from their cell phones. Drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using their cell phones at all. The exception to these laws is if the driver has an emergency. Examples of an emergency include reporting an accident or reporting another driver who is driving carelessly or recklessly.
The law is a primary traffic law, which means police can pull a driver over for texting while driving. A non-primary traffic law, such as not wearing a seatbelt, does not allow an officer to pull the driver over for only that violation. For example, an officer would have to pull a driver over for speeding and then the officer could also issue the ticket for a seatbelt violation.
Unlike some other traffic offenses, the officer must actually see the driver violate the law. It would not be sufficient for an officer to pull someone over because another person saw the driver texting. An example of a situation in which an officer could pull someone over without seeing the actual offense being committed is a DUI. For example, if another driver calls 911 and reports that a specific car with a specific license plate number is driving a particular direction and the car appears to be swerving and weaving between lanes of traffic, even if the officer did not see swerving or weaving, depending on some other circumstances, the officer could pull the driver over even though he or she never saw any bad driving.
CSP has named this increased enforcement “Get Your Head Out of Your Apps.” Much like the increased DUI patrols during the summer “Heat Is On” campaign, the texting while driving patrols will likely increase the issuance of tickets.