Ordering from Amazon while driving among tickets issued in crackdown

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Dedicated MnPASS lanes on Interstate 394
Interstate 394 headed toward downtown Minneapolis.
Brian Bakst | MPR News File

Police ticketed a motorist for driving while ordering from Amazon and another for driving while playing online poker during the state's annual crackdown on distracted driving in April.

And these weren't phone-addicted millennials. The poker player was age 42, and the Amazon customer was 65.

Their citations were among the more than 1,500 that officers issued — a new record — during the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's two weeks of extra enforcement.

Over 300 law enforcement agencies participated.

The number of tickets rose a third above last year's said Michael Hanson of the DPS.

He warned drivers not to pick up their phones now that the enforcement push is over.

"Just because we don't have those extra resources out there now does not mean that the officers will be ignoring those violations, because they will not," he said. "They will continue to be very aggressive and make sure that everybody is paying attention when they're behind the wheel."

The campaign ran from April 9 to April 22.

The St. Paul Police Department issued the most citations — 171.

Hanson said the number of citations has risen every year over the past four years. It's evidence there's a distraction epidemic on Minnesota roadways.

"We need to do something to change our habits and our culture in Minnesota," he said. "We just have people who are far too addicted to their phones and to doing things behind the wheel when they shouldn't be."