SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - You may have noticed more San Diego cCounty sheriff's deputies on the streets lately. The department has beefed up the number of patrol units as part of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month. That means anyone caught texting and driving will be looking at a big fine.
On Mission Gorge Road near Cuyamaca Street in Santee, Sgt. Scott Hill pulls over the driver of a Nissan Altima.
"He was so engrossed in text message, completely unaware of his surroundings," Hill said.
The 19-year-old, he says, had both hands on his phone, steering with the bottom of his palms, with his car drifting into the next lane. The teen, Greg Rivera, told CBS News 8 he was sending this text to his sister.
"I didn't think it would matter, sending a quick text," Rivera said.
But the San Diego County Sheriff's Department says every second matters.
"It takes a split second for someone to walk in front of you someone to stop in front of you," Hill said. "If you're texting you're equivalent to a .08 blood alcohol level. It's because your focus is not where it needs to be, on the road."
It's not just texting that's a problem. Sheriff's deputies are also concerned about people checking social media while driving, posting pics or video on Facebook or Twitter can also be very dangerous.
Just minutes later, Sgt. Hill busts another person, this time for using her speakerphone. Julia Nam tells us she was using the GPS on her phone.
"At times you have to glance and check," Nam said.
But she says she won't make that mistake again.
"When you look at it from a big perspective, it's not worth it because it only takes a second," she said.
Fines start at $161 plus court costs for first-time offenders. The bottom line is, you can use a Bluetooth or headset to talk on your phone, but you cannot be holding onto it.
Some of the footage used in this video report was shot using a GoPro camera.