Since the state law banning use of hand-held cellphones while driving went into effect a month ago, law enforcement officers in and around the Twin Cities haven’t written a single summons.

While authorities have reportedly handed out hundreds of tickets to scofflaws around the state since Sept. 19, officers in Lewiston and Auburn police departments and Androscoggin County Sheriff’s deputies haven’t issued any citations for violating the new law.

Moreover, those officers haven’t even warned motorists in writing, only verbally.

Auburn Deputy Police Chief Timothy Cougle said his department issued six verbal warnings under the new law over the past month.

“We are encouraged by the low number of violations observed by our officers,” he said. “This demonstrates that the word is getting out and that our efforts and those of other agencies, both state and local, regarding the new law are working. We hope that voluntary compliance continues.”

The Legislature passed a law earlier this year that banned hand-held electronic devices, including cellphones, while driving or stopped in traffic. The law allows for a single touch of a fixed electronic device.

A person is allowed to text while in the driver’s seat of a vehicle if that person has pulled their vehicle over to the side of, or off, a public way and has halted in a location where the motor vehicle can safely remain stopped, according to the statute.

The fine for a first offense is $85, including fees.

The prohibition extends to professional truck and school bus drivers who are similarly disallowed under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations. Exceptions to the prohibition include using a cellphone in an emergency to contact law enforcement or emergency services.


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