Distracted driving is essentially multi-tasking in a car, and it is further defined as anything that takes a driver’s mind or eyes off the road or their hands off the steering wheel. It can include talking on a cell phone, eating, drinking or grooming. Most states have distracted driving laws which allow the police to pull people over for doing things that could distract them from driving safely. Distracted driving can be a violation of a primary enforcement law, which means a police officer may ticket the offender for just that offense. In a secondary enforcement law, the police officer may cite someone for the offense in question only if they are also citing them for another offense, like speeding.
At this writing, 46 states, plus the Virgin Islands, Guam, and Washington, D.C., consider text messaging illegal. In fact, it’s a primary enforcement law in 41 states. In the four states that don’t have a ban, two forbid novice drivers from texting, and one forbids bus drivers from texting. “Novice drivers” are generally defined as those who are on learners’ permits, provisional licenses, and/or are under 18 years old.
Using a Cell Phone
Most states also restrict cell phone use while driving. Washington, D.C., and 38 states forbid novice drivers from using cell phones at all while driving. D.C. and 20 states prohibit school bus drivers from using cell phones. Fourteen states and several territories forbid all drivers from using hand-held cell phones. All of these jurisdictions treat the prohibition as a primary enforcement law.
All 50 states consider driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or over 0.0.8 percent a crime. While different states have different penalties, all 50 states have an ignition interlock law in which a judge requires a convicted drunk driver to have interlocks installed on their cars. The interlock is a technological device that analyzes a driver’s breath, and keeps the driver from starting the car if they’ve had too much to drink. It’s important to talk to a lawyer if you are facing DUI charges, say the experts at Kraut Law Group.
Nineteen states so far also have laws specifically forbidding citizens from driving while under the influence of a controlled substance.
In some states, people have been arrested for eating while driving. New Jersey legislators are considering making eating while driving illegal. While this may not technically be illegal in all states, it can be considered distracted driving. If you cause a collision because you are eating and not paying attention to the road, you can suffer the consequences.
Shaving, putting on make-up, and the like also count as distracted driving. With all of these activities, the driver is not only not thinking about driving, they also probably don’t have their hands on the steering wheel. Anybody facing a distracted driving charge should consult their lawyer.
Distracted driving is not only dangerous to you, you could be putting other people at harm too. It’s important to pay attention to the road and pull over if you need to make a phone call or do anything else that could distract you.