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Police issuing fewer tickets to drivers on phones

The Journal Inquirer reported that cars used by most troopers and officers lack the technology allowing police to determine if a driver previously has been cited for a cellphone infraction.

The Associated Press

11/15/2013

HARTFORD, Conn. — Motorists who are caught for a second or third time texting or talking on a cellphone are dodging tickets because police don't have the technology to easily ticket them and are using discretion in enforcing a new law, state police say.

The Journal Inquirer reported (http://bit.ly/1fDyG1q ) that cars used by most troopers and officers lack the technology allowing police to determine if a driver previously has been cited for a cellphone infraction. The trooper or officer must instead call a barracks or the station and ask a dispatcher to look up the motorist's driving history.

In addition, police use discretion in writing tickets that can cost a driver $500. On most occasions, they'll instead issue a $150 ticket for a first-time offense.

"It's a discretion thing," state police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said. "You can't do it on every stop. It's just not practical."

A state law that took effect last month increased the fine for a second distracted driving offense from $250 to $300. The fine for third and subsequent offenses jumped from $400 to $500. The first-offense ticket went from $125 to $150.

Lawmakers said they wanted to send a strong message, and one legislator said police are not doing their jobs by refusing to write tickets.

"They need to enforce the law," said Sen. Stephen Cassano, D-Manchester.

The number of tickets being issued has declined, court records show. Police issued 30,109 in 2012, down from 38,556 tickets in 2011.

As of September, police issued 26,869 tickets.

The number of tickets for second and third offenses is small but has increased. Police issued 658 second-offense tickets in 2011, 690 the following year and 721 through September.

Police issued 135 third-offense tickets in 2011, 128 in 2012 and 142 so far in 2013.

Information from: Journal Inquirer, http://www.journalinquirer.com


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