COCHISE COUNTY — Don’t hold the cell phone, talk and drive.

Starting Jan. 1, 2021 that will earn you a ticket if a law enforcement officer catches you in the talking or dialing on a mobile device.

Writing a text message, sending it and reading it while driving, is also against the law, according to Arizona Revised Statute Section 28-914 — Use of portable wireless communication device while driving.

Although the law has been on the books for a while, at the moment, local law enforcement are stopping motorists and giving them a friendly reminder and warning.

“What we do is we pull people over and we talk to them,” said Cochise County Sheriff Mark Dannels. “We’re in a warning phase, especially if we see someone who’s really into their conversation.”

That means a motorist who’s so involved in their conversation while holding their cell phone that it’s evident in their driving, Dannels said.

“We’re in educational awareness right now,” the sheriff said.

Ditto for Sierra Vista Police Chief Adam Thrasher and his officers.

Thrasher has stopped motorists who he has spotted chatting on a cell phone while driving.

“I pulled over the same person twice within the same week,” the chief said. “Most people know they shouldn’t be doing it.”

At a City Council work session last week, Thrasher told the panel that the department would be rolling out an awareness campaign in December to inform the public of the changes coming in January.

Violation of the statute would translate into a civil citation. According to the statute: “Beginning January 1, 2021, a person who violates this section is subject to a civil penalty as follows: 1. At least $75 but not more than $149 for a first violation; 2. At least $150 but not more than $250 for a second or subsequent violation.”

Dannels anticipates that putting down the cell phone while driving could be a hard habit for some motorists to break.

“This is going to be a challenge for some people,” he said.