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Victoria police get tougher on cell phone violations in school zones

By DAVID TEWES
Nov. 28, 2010 at 5:28 a.m.


The new lawVictoria officers have issued about 90 tickets since the law prohibiting cell phone talking while driving in school zones took effect earlier this year.

Ten of those were regular tickets, and 80 were warnings.

The standard fine in Victoria for the violation is $234, including court costs.

Talking on cell phones while driving in school zones is not illegal for those using hands-free sets.

Victoria police warned they are becoming more aggressive when it comes to writing tickets to drivers talking on cell phones in school zones.

"We're trying to transition from an education process to the enforcement component," Police Chief Bruce Ure said. "So, there are going to be more tickets that are going to be written."

He said his officers have issued about 90 tickets since the law went into effect earlier this year. Ten of those were regular tickets and 80 were warnings.

Municipal Court Clerk Tracy Musch said the standard fine in Victoria for the violation is $234, including court costs. But she said the maximum fine for the Class C violation is $500.

Ure said some drivers are complying with the law, but it's not being embraced as much as he would like.

"I think what the problem is, you're traveling down the road and having a phone conversation," he said. "Then, all of a sudden, here comes the school zone."

Drivers weren't thinking about the school zone when they initiated the conversation, he said. People then decide to take a chance continuing to talk on the phone for the 10 seconds or so it takes to get through the school zone.

"It's a challenge to comply with it, and it's a challenge to enforce it," Ure said. The chief warned that for his department, the honeymoon is over.

Ure and Capt. Herb Tucker at the Victoria Sheriff's Office said the biggest problem is drivers texting, whether it's in school zones or elsewhere. Ure said that's especially a problem among the young drivers.

"Texting while going through a school zone is like driving drunk through a school zone," Ure said.

Yet, texting and driving are not illegal. "But we're finding more and more accidents are caused by people texting," Tucker said.

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