Distracted Driving Laws
If you have been in accident, there is a 1-in-5 chance distracted driving caused it. Distracted driving can be caused by multiple things, but in the end, they are all dangerous. To better understand Utah’s laws on distracted driving, here is a list of questions and their answers taken derived from Utah law.
What is considered distracted driving?
Utah’s Law includes distracted driving as part of careless driving. This means that someone who violates the traffic laws because one or more activities were distracting the person from driving the vehicle. Distractions include:
- using a cell phone or other electronic device that is not hands-free,
- searching for something in the vehicle, or
- grooming or taking care of themselves in any other way.
What can I NOT do with my phone while driving?
Cell phones represent one of the largest causes of distracted driving. According to Utah Code, cell phones may not be used while driving for:
- text messaging,
- entering or reading data or images, or
- using an app.
However, Utah’s law does not prohibit:
- phone calls*,
- use of GPS or navigation tools,
- “hands-free or voice operated technology,” or
- other uses during a medical emergency, reporting safety hazards or crimes, or “providing roadside or medical assistance.”
*Utah just recently passed a law making it illegal for drivers under 18 years old to talk on their cell phone while driving unless talking to their parents. If found guilty they face a $25 fine, but no marks on their driving record.
What are the penalties for distracted driving?
If convicted of careless driving, the person is guilty of a class C misdemeanor (up to 90 days in jail and up to a $750 fine) and can have their driver’s license taken away if the accident killed another person. A driver convicted of an improper cell phone use is guilty of a class C misdemeanor. This moves up to a class B (up to 6 months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine) if the person’s actions caused serious bodily injury or if committed within three years of a similar offense (Utah Code). If a driver causes a fatal accident because of texting while driving, they face a charge of criminal homicide. If found just negligent, they face a charge of a 3rd degree felony (0-5 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine). If found criminally negligent, they face a 2nd degree felony (1-15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine). Criminally negligent means the driver disregarded a large and obvious risk (not looking at the road while driving because of texting). Either way, the driver will lose their license as a result of the fatal accident.
What else can distract me while driving?
While Utah’s laws do not list everything that can distract you while driving, be aware of some common habits that may cause an accident. While driving avoid:
- eating or drinking,
- paying too much attention to media devices including adjusting the radio, CD player, iPod, or other device, and
- looking at billboards, stores, or other distractions outside of your car.
If you do find yourself in a car accident and suspect that the other driver was distracted, call us at Christensen & Hymas 801-506-0800 to ensure that you receive the best representation for your case. Or call to order our FREE accident book to help you know how to move forward during this uncertain time. We have experience dealing with insurance companies who will often try to ignore you until it’s too late to receive compensation from them. Don’t delay.
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