DES MOINES, Iowa -- Nearly 40 million Americans will hit the road this holiday weekend and for those driving through Iowa, enforcement of a new kind will be in full effect. The state’s ban on texting while driving goes into effect Saturday.
“I have a child. It`s a dangerous world. I`ve been almost hit a few times just this week from someone just on their phone texting” says Des Moines resident, David Schavone.
The new law is a primary offense meaning law enforcement can pull drivers over solely based on suspicion of distracted driving. Under the law, a fine for texting while driving is $30 dollars plus an additional $70.50 for court and surcharge fees. Motorists are required to pay the full amount even if they do not appear in court. Some say the amount isn't enough to stop the texting while driving habit.
“It’s almost like a slap on the wrist because anyone has 30 dollars anymore,” says Schavone.
Experts say while motorists may be caught up in the expenses, Drake Law professor Robert Rigg says there are bigger consequences to be aware of.
“Distracted driving now under this statute is a predicate to reckless driving and reckless driving gets you to vehicular homicide.” He adds that conviction could carry a 10 year prison sentence.
In cases of serious injury or death investigators can subpoena phone records. However, in minor cases Des Moines Police says its relying on admission of guilt and squad car cameras to issue citations. The department says it will likely enforce a traffic sting targeting distracted drivers in sometime in the near future.
According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, texting while driving is a moving violation and will go on your driving record.