Based on vehicle accident records, insurance companies have discovered that 88% of drivers use their phones for up to 3.5 minutes per hour while driving, and 68% text while driving.
Twenty-five percent of the car accidents in the U.S. are caused by texting while driving. In addition, smartphone use while driving is responsible for 1.6 million car crashes every year.
Those are the statistics in the U.S. and Utah is not much different as we explain below.
On October 29, 2020, about 40 office police offers of Utah County focused their attention on distracted driving. Nearly 200 cars were stopped and 57 drivers were cited for distracted driving, which included texting, browsing, engaging with social media, changing music on cell phones, or using other wireless devices while driving.
The Utah attorneys at The Garner Law Firm combed through the cases concerning texting and driving and fleshed out the finer details to help readers understand the distracted driving laws in Utah.
Here is what you need to know:
- Distracted Driving Laws in Utah (Code 41-6a-1716)
Utah laws specify that anything that distracts a driver’s attention away from the task qualifies as distracted driving. For example:
- Viewing/recording videos
- Dialing a phone number
- Accessing the Internet
- Using the phone to email or engage with social media
- Attending to pets or children while driving
Using a cell phone, laptop, or any wireless communication device while driving is regarded as a risky activity. However, viewing a navigation screen or using the phone for emergency purposes, including reporting criminal activity, is allowed by the state’s laws.
The law focuses on manual distractions and is largely okay with voice-activated or hands-free usage on any device.
There can be other examples of distracted driving as well. Contact your Utah texting and driving lawyer for more clarity.
- Texting while Driving and Primary/Secondary Enforcement
Primary enforcement allows the police to pull you over, while secondary enforcement means that they can cite you only if you break another law while driving.
Texting and driving in Utah invites primary enforcement. If the cop witnesses you texting and driving, he can pull you over and write a citation for violation of distracted driving laws.
If you violate other laws while distracted, the police can cite you for that violation and even penalize you for careless driving.
- Utah’s Penalties for Texting and Driving
A first-time offense is mostly classified as a Class C misdemeanor and fined $100.
Second and ensuing offenses are classified as Class B misdemeanors and each offense is fined up to $1,000, and the driver can face up to 6 months jail time.
If a fatal collision occurs when the driver is distracted, he can be charged with a second- or third-degree felony. If charged with a third-degree felony, the driver faces up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. A second-degree felony conviction can result in up to 15 years of jail time and up to $10,000 in fines.
Besides, the judge can suspend the driver’s license for up to 3 months. Then there is the insurance premium to worry about.
Victims too are likely to sue the distracted driver and here is a primer on the legal consequences of a Utah car accident.
- Distracted Driving: Impact on Insurance
A person booked for distracted driving, especially if he violates any other law, can expect his insurance premiums to increase substantially. His “safe driver” policy discount, if any, can also get eliminated.
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Let’s face it – most folks in Utah are distracted by their cell phones while driving. Though distracted driving cases are under-reported by the authorities, a case can assume serious consequences if the driver is in violation of another law/s too, or if he gets involved in an accident. A serious incident can taint both the driver and the victim and impact their finances, psychology, and quality of life.
If you are a victim of distracted driving, you need an experienced and successful texting and driving attorney in Utah to interpret the law, and handle the insurance company, and other third parties involved.