The 2012 Idaho Legislature passed a new law that bans the use of cellular telephones for texting while driving under Idaho Code 49-1401A. This law will likely take effect in July 2012. On March 28, 2012 the bill was sent to Idaho Governor Butch Otter for signing.
The Idaho law provides that it is an infraction to text while driving. This means, that the penalties involved will be limited to a fine only in the amount of $85.00. However, if you are in an accident due to texting while driving, do not count on or expect Idaho law enforcement to simply cite you for an infraction for texting while driving. In all likelihood, the Idaho Law Enforcement Officer will charge you with a misdemeanor inattentive driving ticket, or if the officer is feeling particularly cranky, a misdemeanor reckless driving charge.
The true significance of the law is that it gives Idaho Police Officers one more reason to pull you over. In the past an officer could see you texting, but without something more, such as a bad driving pattern, they could not pull you over for simply texting. Now they can. Idaho law enforcement will likely use the new law to target driver’s for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol. I would not expect to see a lot of tickets issued for texting while driving during daylight hours. However, I do expect that Idaho Law Enforcement, especially the Boise City Police DUI and Drug Task Force to pull people over for texting while driving late at night and into the early morning hours.
If the police make an arrest for a DUI, they will then search the vehicle in hopes of finding marijuana, paraphernalia or open containers and evidence of other crimes. Drivers should exercise extreme caution to avoid texting while driving. The law does provide an exception in allowing for hands free devices. In other words, if you can talk to your phone in developing a text, rather than typing you should not be pulled over for texting while driving.
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