City police can't ticket texting drivers - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

City police can't ticket texting drivers

By Anna Marie Hartman - bio | email | Twitter | Facebook

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Texting while driving is now illegal in Tennessee, and police have already started pulling people over.
But officers in the City of Memphis will not be writing tickets for texters because the ban is a state law.

Memphis police can only issue tickets for violating city ordinances.

In order for city officers to ticket texting drivers, the city council would have to adopt their own ban on texting while driving.

Elvis fan Gigi Ballester was on her way to Graceland Wednesday when she was pulled over.

"And I see blue lights behind me. So, they pull me over, and I was told today was the first day of the new law that you cannot text and drive," she said.

Ballester says she's innocent - she told the officer she was just using her iPhone to make a call.

"So, I went and I got my iPhone and I showed him this is what I do. I said 'that's not texting. It looks like it, but it isn't.' " 

Ballester was let go without getting a ticket.  

She says she didn't know that only state police can issue tickets for texting while driving.

Ballester says she doesn't mind the ban on texting, but she expects that what happened to her will happen to a lot of innocent iPhone users. 

"I think this is going to be happening for a while," she said. "I think the best thing is just - don't use your phone while you're driving." 

Memphis police said they don't have a mechanism in place to write state traffic citations.

But Shelby County authorities say they can cite drivers under a county ordinance called "duty to devote all attention while driving."


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