WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) —  In a wide-ranging attempt to get drivers to put down their cellphones, the CHP is trying a new tactic: undercover enforcement.

A law went into effect this year making it illegal to hold a cellphone or any other electronic device while driving.

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It’s a policy that is easier for officers to enforce and harder for drivers to hide, reports KCAL9’s Danielle Gersh.

“Before, a lot of people used to be able to say well I’m using the GPS, or I’m just operating, answering  the phone,” says CHP Officer Vance Perreira,

Sgt. Peterson is in plain clothes while walking along Wilshire Boulevard. He spots distracted drivers and radios over to officers around the corner.

The denials come fast and furious.

“I wasn’t looking at my phone,” said one man.

“I had my phone in my hand,” said one man, “cause I was switching it over to Bluetooth.”

“I was on the ramp. I was pulled over because I was talking on my phone,” said one woman.

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“I control my radio from my phone,” said one man, “so I was just switching the song.”

This is the first time CHP has ever done an undercover operation like this. In about two hours, they gave out almost 65 tickets.

Surprise, surprise — Gersh didn’t find anyone happy to get the citation.

“My day is two hours consumed in traffic. I have to get work done during that,” said one woman.

And some refused to believe using the phone could distract them.

“It’s not that much of a distraction for me to call someone on the phone,” said a driver.

The first violation costs $20 — that is, before court fees and processing charges are added. Then the ticket is about $160. A second violation will then cost $270.

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Officers insisted the crackdown was not about ruining people’s mornings. Just trying to make our roads safer for all.