How can North Carolina police enforce the texting ban?

In our last post, we discussed North Carolina’s law that bans texting while driving. But how can such a law be effectively enforced on the road?

In today’s article, we discuss a few key pieces of information regarding the implementation of the texting ban.

Primary offense

Many states that have a texting ban consider texting while driving to be a secondary offense. This means that an officer can only write up a driver for texting if they were also committing another, primary offense–such as running a red light. Under such a system, if a police officer sees someone drive by while appearing to text–but not simultaneously committing another traffic offense–they cannot pull the driver over.

In North Carolina, however, texting while driving is a primary offense. This means that an officer can pull you over for texting–even if you are otherwise driving safely and legally.


Nonetheless, it may seem that texting while driving is a difficult offense to prove. But recent technological advances could change that. Many states are considering equipping their law enforcement officers with so-called textalyzers.

A textalyzer is a hand-held device that an officer can connect to a driver’s cell phone. The device downloads every tap, click or swipe a driver has made and also records which apps the driver was using–along with the dates and times of any such activity.

Critics of textalyzers have raised privacy concerns–arguing that police officers could use the devices to obtain private information about any driver they pull over. However, textalyzer manufacturers have stated that the device cannot record text content or any other personal information.

While textalyzers are not currently in use, North Carolina lawmakers are considering passing legislation to permit their use–in an effort to curb distracted driving tragedies on the road.

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