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Police are "Trying to Catch you Ridin' Dirty!"

Beginning today (March 9, 2012), police can pull drivers over for typing, sending or reading messages, or using or looking at handheld or pad electronic devices.

As reported by PennLive-

An officer can conclude that a driver broke the law based on sight, statements made by the driver or passengers or, if necessary, by obtaining cellphone records. The fine is $50.

It took a long political fight for Pennsylvania to become the 35th state to ban texting while driving.

It took an accumulation of deaths in car crashes caused by texting or other device-induced distraction.

Yet many say the texting ban isn't enough.

Look for a push to ban using a handheld cellphone while driving in Pennsylvania this year.

"I think it's coming," said Rep. Kathy Watson, a Bucks County Republican. "I think someone will introduce it in the next session."

State Rep. Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat from York, said, "I think we're going to have to ban the handheld cellphone."

A veteran police chief, Stephen Margeson of the Carlisle Police Department, said, "I hate to be a person who says more regulation is necessary ... but I really think in the interest of safety, a handheld ban to go along with the texting ban would be better."

So far, nine states and the District of Columbia ban use of handheld cellphones while driving, although 30 states ban it for novice drivers.

A handheld ban?

Knapp has a job that requires him to drive around the state as a facilitator for youth programs. He said the texting ban caused him to curb his texting even before it took effect.

But he doesn't agree with the need for extending it to handhelds, arguing there are tactics such as running the phone through the car's sound system that reduce the risk.

And how will it be enforced with people using handheld phones for purposes such as GPS navigation?

"That's the biggest excuse the cops will get," Knapp said.

As Knapp spoke, his friend, Bekah Hostetter, thumbed her smart-phone.

The 20-year-old Harrisburg Area Community College student said that even without a ban she would "absolutely not" text while driving. She also supports a similar ban on handhelds. She has had too many near-misses involving drivers who were clearly distracted by phones, she said.

As I've indicated in prior blogs, the police will be looking for signs that a driver is distracted, such as weaving or swerving,sudden speed changes, or failing to brake properly at intersections. All this will be done in the name of safety. However, if you're a young person, driving a spued-up out! The police will be using this new texting ban as a way to "catch you ridin' dirty" as they say.

It's important to remain calm if pulled over by the police. Be responsive to their questioning, be polite, provide all necessary documents. However, do not grant their request to search your car without a warrant. I cannot stress this enough. Police do not have a right to search your car without a warrant or probable cause AND exigent circumstances. If you give them consent, they no longer need a warrant and everything they find will be admissible in court.

If you've been pulled over for what you think are bogus reasons, contact a lawyer immediately to discuss your case. Do not take it upon yourself to try and explain your way out of the situation with the police. You may call Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC at (717) 268-4287.