Multi-tasking motorists are being targeted in a monthlong crackdown that has officers keeping an eagle eye out for drivers with a hand on the wheel and the other wrapped around a cellphone.

The California Highway Patrol is spearheading the effort, but drivers will also be under scrutiny on city streets in jurisdictions throughout the state -- 255 local agencies are joining the zero-tolerance effort.

In San Jose, there will be no warnings.

"We all know that talking on our cellphones while driving is distracting, but that doesn't stop some people from continuing to do it," said San Jose police Chief Larry Esquivel in a statement.

He said the effort is aimed at educating people about the dangers involved in using a cellphone when driving, and getting them to change their habits.

Tickets don't come cheap. A first offense has a minimum fine of $159, rising to at least $279 for subsequent offenses. According to San Jose police, the same effort during last April's "Distracted Driving Awareness Month" saw 57,000 tickets issued statewide. Officials said that drivers using a phone to talk or text are four times as likely to get into an injury accident as someone not distracted.

"You can absolutely plan on getting stopped if you're illegally using your cellphone," stated CHP Division Chief Teresa Becher.

Officials suggested that motorists turn off their phone or put it out of reach when driving, include a statement on voice mail that the phone won't be answered while on the road and abstain from calling someone if you think they might be behind the wheel.

Contact Eric Kurhi at 408-920-5852. Follow him at Twitter.com/erickurhi.