Using a cellphone has become a regular habit for most people, and they may often find themselves answering calls or responding to messages while driving. This could lead to accidents and charges ranging from a distracted driver ticket to a more serious criminal offense.
Distracted driving is engaging in anything that distracts your focus on the road.
This can range from texting while driving to even the most mundane activities of conversing while driving. If you have been involved in an accident and you were charged for distracted driving, it is important that you know how to protect your rights and defend yourself legally before the court. Read further about things to consider legally if the car accident you’ve been involved in was caused by distracted driving.
Understanding Distracted Driving
Most people associate distracted driving with the use of mobile phones. However, distracted driving can also involve acts like eating, reading books, or applying makeup while driving. Distracted driving is engaging in any activity that could distract your focus from the road. Several states across the country punish distracted driving differently.
Some states do not have a specific activity attributed to distracted driving. Instead, these states provide for general standards used by police officers to judge an act as a violation of the law. Some of those standards include:
- Whether or not the act is necessary for driving
- Whether or not the act could distract any person from focusing on driving safely
There are, however, states who prohibit specific activities. These activities range from reading, writing, grooming or putting on makeup, or using your cellular phone. These activities can be very specific, hence some states punish the use of mobile phones with your hands and yet do not punish the act of putting these phones on your lap.
Fines and Sanctions
If you are charged for distracted driving, you can be held liable for a fine ranging from $490 if settled out of court to $1,000 if summoned to defend a ticket and unsuccessful in court depending on the jurisdiction. Fines can increase even more if the accident involves physical injuries or death.
Aside from fines, demerit points will be credited to your driver’s record. Your license can also be suspended for 30 or 90 days depending on whether it is your first or second conviction depending on the state. Upon a third conviction for distracted driving, your license can be revoked.
In worst cases, where you inflict physical injury to another or cause death, you could be charged for careless driving. This would mean that you may be fined for at least $2,000 and be made to serve time in jail, again depending on your state’s laws.
Assess the Situation
Because laws and violations with respect to distracted driving vary from state to state, it is important that you assess your situation. Research about the specific prohibitions that your state follows in order to pursue your defense before the case filed against you. Hence, if your act involves only the use of Bluetooth devices, such an act may not be included under the prohibition against using your phone.
Take note of the damage caused by the accident. If there is minimal to no damage, you can engage into a compromise agreement with the other party and enter into a fair settlement in order to avoid a case. However, if the damage caused is one that can no longer be settled by a compromise, it is best to invest in a lawyer.
Consult with a Competent and Experienced Lawyer
Dealing with charges against you can be very stressful and confusing. Hence, it is best that you invest in a lawyer that can help advocate for your defense in the case. The lawyer will be responsible for determining the strengths and weaknesses of your case. If you are at fault at an accident, hiring a lawyer can also help mitigate your charges or may even exonerate your liability.
Pamela Richardson hopes to impart knowledge on the law to the common reader through her pieces. Pamela tries to keep herself fit and active during her free time and is hoping to one day start up her own new business.