Idaho Falls police begin issuing warnings for cell phone use while driving

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Detective Deede speaks to a person who was caught using a cell phone while driving. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS — Put the phone down while driving or risk a hefty fine. That’s the message the Idaho Falls Police Department hopes to instill in residents driving in the community.

The Idaho Falls Police Department spent Dec. 19, educating the public on the new hands-free ordinance in Idaho Falls. Instead of handing out $100 fines to people caught using their phones while driving, officers passed out pamphlets informing drivers about the new ordinance.

“It’s all about public safety,” Idaho Falls Police Chief Bryce Johnson told EastIdahoNews.com. “Driving is a dangerous thing that people do. It’s probably the most dangerous thing most folks do in the course of their day.”

The ordinance only allows the use of cell phones while driving if it’s done hands-free. Having a cell phone in hand while driving constitutes a $100 fine for the first offense and a $200 fine for the second.

EastIdahoNews.com accompanied Idaho Falls Detective Josh Deede for a ride-along on Dec. 19. In the little over an hour we spent with Deede, we pulled over four people using their phones while driving.

He estimated the police force would pull over at least 100 people before the end of the day.

“Having people pay attention to their driving instead of paying attention to their phones is really going to make it safer for everyone,” Johnson said.

Idaho Falls police will begin handing out tickets for violating the ordinance beginning January 1, 2019.

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