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Texting and Driving Laws

texting and drivingMany of the accidents on the road are caused by someone who driving distracted, this could mean texting and driving. When someone chooses to be texting, they are willfully neglecting their responsibility as a driver and they are compromising their safety and those around them. Utah considers it a serious offense when you text and drive and worse if someone gets hurt or killed in an accident caused by texting and driving.

Prohibited Use of Device

The law does NOT allow any motorist to use a handheld wireless communication device or cell phone while driving. These include:

  • Manually using an electronic mail system to send or read emails
  • Manually entering data into the device like composing a text
  • Sending data or text
  • Sending or viewing MMS or images
  • Using a cell phone application

Gadgets and devices categorized as handheld wireless communication devices:

  • wireless telephone
  • personal digital assistant
  • pager or
  • text messaging device

Exceptions and allowed use of cell phone while driving

The texting and driving law allows motorists certain use of the cell phone while driving. These include:

  • To make and receive a call.
  • Use of global positioning or navigation service.
  • Use the cell phone during a medical emergency.
  • To report a safety hazard and request police assistance for that hazard.
  • Use the cell phone when providing roadside or medical assistance.
  • Use the cell phone to report a criminal activity and request assistance related to the observed medical activity.
  • A person can also use a handheld device to operate hands-free operated technology or a system that is physically or electronically integrated into a motor vehicle.

Personnel exempted from this law

Law enforcers and medical emergency personnel can use their handheld devices while driving as long as the purpose is in line with the nature of their work.

What are the penalties and fines if someone is caught violating the texting and driving law?

A person convicted of a violation of this section is guilty of a class C misdemeanor or a class B misdemeanor if the use of handheld device resulted in serious bodily injury to another and if the offender has previous conviction within the last three years of the same violation.

Read the full content of the texting and driving law in Title 41 Chapter 6a Section 1716 .

What about teenage drivers? Are they covered by the same texting and driving laws?

Teenagers under the age of 18 are covered by HB 103.

This law prohibits drivers younger than age 18 from using cell phones while driving has been in effect since May 14, 2013. The violation for teenagers using a cell phone while driving results in a $25 citation. However, the citation doesn’t go against the individual’s permanent driving record. A few exceptions have also been made for teenagers to use their cell phone while driving. Teen drivers can still call in a medical problem or a road hazard, as well as report a crime. They can also call their parents or guardians.

How can I prove that someone was texting and driving prior to the accident?

There are people who would admit to what they did prior to the accident or provide the explanation why the accident happened. If the cell phone was recovered in good condition, authorities can check its content to verify. Bystanders or witnesses to the accidents can also be interviewed regarding the accident.

To learn more, visit our “Texting and Driving” article.

Image “Texting while at the wheel” copyright by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

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