BLUE LIGHTS – EMPTY WALLETS
IF YOU USE A CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING IN NORTH CAROLINA
A bill has been introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly to make it a crime to use your cell phone while driving. House Bill 144 would outlaw “distracted driving” and impose penalties that increase with subsequent offenses. Beginning December 1, 2019, the police will have reason to pull over drivers who use their hands to engage in distracted behavior that impairs their operation of a motor vehicle. The definition includes the use of a handheld mobile telephone or handheld electronic device. If you receive one of these tickets, then be prepared to spend a pretty penny because the infraction carries a $100 fine in addition to the costs of court which boosts the total cost of a citation to nearly $300. If you receive a second offense, then the fine goes up as well as carrying insurance points which will also cost you more money. If you don’t learn a lesson from the previous two tickets, then you can expect a $200 fine, court costs, and 2 insurance points for another offense within 3 years.
To ease the shock to drivers, police will issue warnings to drivers found to be in violation of the new law for the first six months. After six months, be ready to see blue lights and empty wallets.
The support for this law can likely be found in your drive to work or to the grocery store today. How many times have you seen a vehicle swerving in and out of lanes only to pass by a driver looking down at their phone while attempting to drive? For me, I see it daily. As a lawyer, I see the tragic results when a family calls to explain that their loved one was injured by a distracted driver who was on their cell phone instead of paying attention to the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over 3000 people were killed due to distracted driving for the most recent year that data was collected. Age appears to also be a large factor in the likelihood of being a distracted driver. NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis show that kids between 15 and 19 years old represent about 23% of all distracted drivers. Adults between the ages of 20-29 represent 19% of all distracted drivers. The percentage goes down for each subsequent age group. The important piece of information here is that these fatalities are 100% avoidable if people will avoid distractions such as the use of handheld cell phones or handheld electronic devices while driving.
If HB 144 is successfully passed by the North Carolina General Assembly, then both visitors and residents of our state should be safer as drivers learn to stay off their phones while driving.
At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, we have offices across North Carolina and South Carolina and we can attest to the pain felt by families when someone is injured by a distracted driver. It is senseless to try to understand how someone can lose their life because another person is too self-absorbed to delay responding to a text message for a few minutes. If you or someone you know has been hurt because of a distracted driver who was on their cell phone, then we have the legal team who will fight for you. Call the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor at (800) 351-3008 to share your distracted driver story with us.