A new law going into effect last Tuesday will add tighter restrictions on what a person can and cannot do with their cell phone while driving their car.
While it was already illegal in Utah to send a text message while driving, the new law will update Utah’s code
to also restrict practices such as playing games, checking a Facebook status, and reading or writing an email on a cell phone while driving.
Basically, if drivers are doing anything other than using the device for a phone, they might be cited for using their cell phone illegally. The only exception is if the phone is being used for directions via GPS.
“They can use it for navigating, but people cannot read, write or send communications, dial a number, surf the Internet, view or record a video or enter data,” said Rep. Don Ipson, R-St. George, the house floor sponsor of the legislation when it was up for final debate in March.
Ipson explained the new law will give law enforcement officials more clarity on what can or cannot be done with a phone while behind the wheel. In the past police have struggled with the old law, which basically banned sending a text message while driving, because drivers could say they were checking an email or playing a game and not texting.
The new law is a primary offense, and violators could be charged a $100 fine if caught using their phone unlawfully.
Sgt. Todd Royce with the Utah Highway Patrol explained the new law will require many Utahns to change their cell phone behavior. He said UHP is planning to emphasize education at first when pulling over drivers in the coming weeks who are using their phone illegally, meaning more warnings will be written than actual tickets.
Royce also noted the law clearly states an individual’s car has to be in motion to be violating the law.
(original article found here