Driving safely always requires one hundred percent of the driver’s attention. Any distraction from the task at hand is an invitation for disaster. Since the advent of texting or attending to emails or voicemails on mobile devices, the amount of accidents caused by distracted driving has skyrocketed, as a reckless driving lawyer Fairfax, VA trusts knows well.
Nothing is more annoying than following a driver who cannot stay in the correct lane, varies their speed, and is generally inattentive to what is going on around them. Even more unnerving is when you pass this driver, they are looking at their phone and/or texting while they drive.
Several traffic laws have been passed on the state and local level designed to prohibit texting while driving. On a federal level, laws have been created to ban texting while driving for specified federal employees. As of March 2018, texting while driving is banned in 47 states and Washington D.C. for all drivers. Only in Montana and Arizona is it still legal to text and drive. Missouri has banned texting for novice or new drivers.
What happens if you are caught texting while driving?
The punishment varies by jurisdiction. Most areas where texting is illegal, you can be pulled over for texting even if it involves no other violation. This is called “primary enforcement”. In a small amount of jurisdictions, you can be ticketed for texting while driving only if you are pulled over for a different violation.
If you are ticketed for texting while driving you can face punishments that include fines, along with points on your driver’s license. If you are guilty of multiple offenses of texting while driving in some states you could possibly face jail time.
What happens if you cause an accident and you were texting while driving?
The consequences of causing an accident while driving and texting can be catastrophic. Texting and driving can cause accidents that may involve fatalities. In cases such as this, you could be charged with reckless driving, which, by itself, results in serious ramifications, including:
- Jail time
- Large fines
- A felony on your record
- Possible loss of your driver’s license
- If your job requires driving, that job could be in jeopardy
- The status or removal of a security clearance if you have one
In addition, the family of the deceased may file a wrongful death lawsuit against you. The fact that you are found guilty of texting while driving may prove negligence or recklessness, which can affect the findings in additional lawsuits against you.
It is never, under any circumstances, a good idea to take your attention away from driving. Nothing on your phone is as important or urgent as the task at hand — getting from one place to another in a manner that is safe for you and everyone around you. Distracted driving is every bit as dangerous as driving under the influence, only it is more prevalent. Merely sending or looking at a text can quickly turn into a deadly crash that could have been prevented by waiting for a safe time and place to check your phone.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at David Bate Law Office for their insight into reckless driving.