BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP) — While the number of citations given by state troopers for texting and driving has steadily increased in Minnesota, the North Dakota Highway Patrol says enforcing its own recently enacted texting law has been a challenge.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol has issued just two tickets and five warnings statewide in the nearly two months since its state ban on texting and driving took effect. Drivers caught using a wireless communications devise to compose, read or send a message can be fined $100.
Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Jody Skogen says enforcement of the law may remain sporadic as troopers struggle to catch drivers in the act, but educating drivers about the dangers of texting and driving continues to be a priority.
“The law bolsters our stance against the life-threatening act and increases the odds that North Dakota motorists will arrive at their destinations safely,” Skogen said in an email to the Bemidji Pioneer.
The Minnesota State Patrol has been increasing enforcement of a similar law enacted in 2008. After issuing just 18 tickets in the last five months of 2008, troopers issued 137 tickets in 2009, 355 tickets in 2010 and 332 tickets through Aug. 31 of this year, according to Lt. Eric Roeske, patrol spokesman. Troopers also have issued 2,151 warnings.
The penalty for texting and driving in Minnesota is $135, including a $50 base fine, $75 surcharge and $10 law library fee. Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said he personally has issued about a dozen tickets and probably twice as many warnings.
Grabow said that since the law was passed, he has become less tolerant when he spots cars swerving, crossing the centerline and making lane changes without signaling. If he suspects texting while driving but can’t prove it, he will still cite drivers for the traffic offenses.
“I really believe it is the new epidemic plaguing our highways,” Grabow said.