Police Patrols Increase Enforcement for 'U Text. U Drive. U Pay'

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    More police officers will be on the roads in many Connecticut towns starting Wednesday as part of a statewide initiative to reduce texting and driving habits.

    Hand-held cell phone use is illegal in the state and Connecticut was the only state nationwide to receive $2.3 million in federal funds to curb distracted driving. The Connecticut Department of Transportation Highway Safety Office and local police departments are teaming up for the "U Drive. U Text. U Pay" campaign.

    Seeing drivers texting at a light or covertly under the steering wheel if far from uncommon, but those are habits police want to eliminate entirely by making those people pay.

    Hartford resident Peyton Miller knows all too well the consequences of distracted driving.

    She said, "I was holding my cell phone and I wasn't on it and he said 'if it's in you're hand while you're driving' and then handed her a $150 ticket. The fine is increased for second offenders.

    "I know I won't pick up my phone for $150," she said.

    It's the first time the state has used dedicated federal funds intended to eliminate unsafe driving behaviors, according to a news release from Branford police, one of the participating departments. 

    "Our goal will not only be to ticket motorists who disobey the Connecticut Statute -- we also hope to save lives by changing people's behavior and deterring this all too common activity," Chief Kevin Halloran said in a statement.

    Other police departments involved in "U Drive. U Text. U. Pay" include New Haven, Danbury, Manchester, Norwalk, Newington, Westport, Hamden, Farmington, Orange, Bristol, Norwich, Bridgeport, Stamford, Derby, Stratford, Plainville, Trumbull, Wethersfield, Vernon North Haven, Bloomfield, West Hartford, Southington and Wallingford. 

    The campaign runs through Sept. 24.

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