Gary police to crack down on distracted driving

If you're glued to your phone while driving in Gary next week, you might end up with a ticket.

The Gary Police Department plans to launch a weeklong zero-tolerance cellphone enforcement blitz as kids return to school.

"The goal of the weeklong enforcement is to reduce distracted drivers, especially in school zones," the Gary Police Department said in a news release. "Please stay alert, be hands-free or wait to make your calls and texts. Distracted driving is dangerous driving."

Indiana law forbids text messaging while driving, specifically banning drivers from using "a telecommunications device to type a text message or an electronic mail message; transmit a text message or an electronic mail message; or read a text message or an electronic mail message." Fines for distracted driving can range between $35 and $500, according to state statute.

Under state law, drivers under 21 years old cannot use cellphones at all when driving, including to make phone calls unless it's to report an emergency.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.