There is no federal law prohibiting cell phone use while driving. However, many states have banned the use of handheld devices and cell phones while driving. These types of bans may vary from state to state. For instance, some states prohibit all drivers from using any type of hand-held cell phone device during driving.
Other states ban the use of any type of cell-phone, regardless if it is hand-held or if the driver is using a headset device. In other jurisdictions, the use of cell phone for texting while driving may be prohibited as well.
Also, some states place special restrictions on certain types of drivers. For example, some states ban the use of handheld cell phone devices for bus drivers, drivers under the age of 18 years old, and other specific types of drivers.
What Happens If a Driver Violates the Ban?
For states that enforce cell phone bans, violations can result in various penalties. Though state laws may vary there are typically two levels of offenses associated with violating a using a cell phone while driving ban:
- Primary offense: A driver has violated the ban without committing any other traffic violations, such as speeding or running a red light.
- Secondary offense: A driver has violated the ban while also committing another traffic offense.
Both levels of offense will result in at least a sizable fine; in some cases, more serious consequences can result. These can include a loss of driving privileges, probation, or other penalties.
What If a Driver Causes a Car Accident While Using a Cell Phone?
When a car accident occurs, the driver who is more careless is normally determined to be at fault. The driver using the cell phone may be at fault for the accident and deemed liable for any damages. If the driver was on the job during the car crash, their employer may be held liable in some circumstances. However, parents are generally not currently held liable for their teen causing an accident while using a cell phone.
Are There Defenses Against a Violation of the Ban?
If a driver is accused of violating the ban, there are some defenses that can apply to their case, depending on the circumstances:
- Emergency: A driver can claim that an emergency occurred causing them to use their cell phone while driving.
- Identification Problems: The driver was not texting or using a cell phone at the time of the crash, despite what another person claims to have seen.
- Lack of Probable Cause: The police do not have probable cause to believe the driver was on the phone at the time of the accident.
Should I Contact an Attorney If I Was Accused of Using a Cell Phone While Driving?
Driving while texting or using a cell phone is a serious offense that often comes with a hefty fine. If you believe that you were wrongly charged and was not using your phone while driving, then talk to a criminal defense attorney about your legal rights and how you can fight your charges. If your cell phone use resulted in an accident or serious injury to another person, then it’s important to contact a lawyer to find out what you can do to mitigate the potential penalties/fines.