RIVERSIDE, Calif -

Nearly 50 motorists were ticketed in a Riverside County law enforcement campaign to deter "distracted driving," authorities said today.

The California Highway Patrol's Riverside office and the sheriff's San Jacinto station each conducted enforcement operations Tuesday aimed at cracking down on drivers talking on mobile phones without a hands-free device.

The CHP campaign resulted in nine citations, while sheriff's deputies wrote 40 tickets.

"The goal of this operation was to ... bring public awareness to the dangers of distracted driving," said sheriff's Sgt. Robert Himmelberg.

The penalty for a first-time cell phone violation is $20. For every violation after that, the fine is $50.

During the sheriff's operation, three people were also arrested on suspicion of driving on a suspended license, Himmelberg said.