Woman says she got traffic ticket for holding cellphone

by: Diana Davis Updated:

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DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - A DeKalb County driver said she'll fight a ticket she got for using her cellphone.
 

Janelle Sumpter said she’s now paranoid to even touch her cellphone when she’s in the car because of this ticket.
 
She said a DeKalb County cop pulled her over as she waited for the light to change at the intersection of Northlake Parkway and La Vista Road.
 
“I asked him what did I do and he said, 'You are holding your cellphone,'” Sumpter said.
 
She insists she was not texting but simply holding the phone and about to put it in her purse.
 
“I didn’t want it to fall underneath my feet, so I just happened to have it in my hand,” Sumpter claims.
 
By now all just about all Georgia drivers know it’s illegal to text and drive. But holding a phone?

Channel 2’s Diana Davis went to the DeKalb Police Department to find out more.
 
Though they won’t talk about the specifics of Sumpter's case, Capt. S.R. Fore told Davis the law is clear.
 
“If you have it in your hand you could possibly be reading data received on that personal device, and that would be a violation of state law,” Fore said.
 
The Georgia code on texting and driving says in part, "No person shall operate a motor vehicle to write, send or read any text-based communication, including but not limited to a text message, instant message, email or Internet data.”
 
The key word as the officer told Davis seems to be "read."
 
If the phone is in a driver’s hand police can assume the driver may be reading what’s on the phone’s screen and therefore be distracted, which is illegal.
 
Sumpter goes to court in a few weeks to tell it to the judge the fine could be up to $150.
 
“I’m hoping it will be dismissed because of the confusion of the laws that clearly I did not know,” she said.