Home / National News / Police Pose as 'Panhandlers' to Catch Distracted Drivers


(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) — An undercover police sting took a creative route to catch distracted drivers.

Four plain-clothed San Bernardino police officers stood on highway off-ramps this month holding signs in an attempt to catch distracted drivers, police said in a statement.

The cardboard signs read, “I am NOT homeless. SB Police looking for seatbelt/cell phone violations.”

The officers were able to walk right up to some of the cars unnoticed because the drivers were consumed with either texting or talking on their cell phones, police said.

It is illegal to text while driving in California and calls must be made on a hands-free device, like a Bluetooth earpiece.

Uniformed motorcycle officers were nearby and stopped 50 cars during the four-hour operation, according to police.

Officers gave 33 tickets to drivers for cell phone use and 15 tickets for drivers not wearing seat belts. Five cars were also impounded after police discovered the driver was either unlicensed or driving on a suspended license.

San Bernardino Police Department officials said the goal was to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

“Those calls and messages can wait until you arrive at your destination and are not worth risking the life of yourself or those around you while driving,” police said.

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