For teen drivers new to the roadways, the basic driving laws are enough to focus on while behind wheel without adding distractions like a cell phone — and state lawmakers have taken notice.
Soon, a new state law will ban teens from using their cell phones while driving. Beginning Nov. 1, drivers who have a probationary license or instructional permit won't be able to use a cell phone or text while driving; violators will be fined.
Shorewood Police Lt. Jeff Schmidt said the law will make it easier for officers to ticket inattentive drivers.
Currently, the law allows police to ticket drivers for inattentive driving, which could include cell phone use, eating, drinking, putting on makeup, or anything else. However, officers must demonstrate that the distraction was the direct cause for an accident or traffic violation.
"Unfortunately, we usually find out after a traffic accident there was a device involved," he said.
Under the new law, officers need only prove that a person has a probationary license, and was using a cell phone to issue a citation. Police do not need to prove that cell phone use directly caused a violation or accident. As a result, inattentive drivers can be slapped with a citation.
"If our officers see a young driver using a cell phone, we can pull them over with no problem," he said.