New law banning use of social media while driving goes into effect

New law banning use of social media while driving goes into effect
Photo provided by MGN Online.
Louisiana Politics

POSTED: Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 4:00am

UPDATED: Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 11:40am

A new law banning the use of social media while driving goes into effect today. Although most agree it’s a good way to prevent people from engaging in dangerous behaviors while driving, many are curious how it will be enforced. 

“How would they know I’m looking at social media versus my navigation app,” one NBC33 viewer wrote on Facebook. “This sounds like an unenforceable law.”

We brought your questions to the Baton Rouge Police Department and they explained that the new law will be enforced in the same way as other officer observed driving offenses.

“It will be the same as seat belt enforcement,” Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, Baton Rouge Police Department, explained. “If we see someone pushing keys while driving, that’s enough probable cause to give a citation.”

With the current ban on texting and driving, many wondered why it was necessary to add another law for social media. Officers say people would commonly argue that they were using a social media site and not texting as a way of getting out of a ticket. But the purpose of the ticket, they say, is to change behavior before it creates a bigger problem.

“We know that law is put in place to change the driving behavior because there have been accidents due to people not paying attention to the road,” Cpl McKneely said. “We’re going to enforce the law as much as we can to change driving behavior.”

Although BRPD could not provide a number for the amount of citations issued by the agency for texting while driving, Cpl. McKneely admitted that it is low.

“I don’t believe we have issued very many citations for texting and driving,” he said. “Officers will use their discretion for this particular violation.”

But the question still remains, how can they prove that you were either texting or driving? Will they ask to see your phone?

“You do not have to show them your phone,” Cpl. McKneely said. “You can take your phone as evidence and use it in your traffic court case.”

So the burden of proof will rest on the officer, but you will still have to make your case in court. So, they say the best thing to do is to turn off your phone while you’re in your car.

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