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Last Modified: May 2, 2023

Texting and Driving FAQs

Is texting and driving considered distracted driving?

Yes. When a driver uses a cell phone to text while driving, they are taking their eyes off the road.  Distracted driving is defined as driving with divided attention. Driving is a very challenging task that requires total concentration.

What is the definition of “text messaging” under Utah law?

Text messaging is defined in Utah law as “a communication in the form of electronic text or one or more electronic images sent by the actor from a telephone or computer to another person’s telephone or computer by addressing the communication to the person’s telephone number.

Are there exemptions to texting and driving law?

A person who is texting due to a medical emergency may be exempt from this law.

Why is texting and driving considered risky?

Texting drivers take their eyes off the roadway for an average of 4.6 seconds. At 55 mph, this equates to a driver traveling 371 feet, or the approximate length of a football field (including the end zones)—without looking at the roadway!

What are the penalties and fines for commercial drivers caught texting and driving?

Texting while driving can result in driver disqualification. Penalties can be up to $2,750 for drivers and up to $11,000 for employers who allow or require drivers to use a handheld communications device for texting while driving.

What age group has the greatest tendency for fatal crashes due to texting and driving?

The younger, inexperienced drivers under 20 years old have the highest proportion of distraction-related fatal crashes.

Are teenagers the only age group prone to commit texting and driving?

No. Based on statistics 800,000 vehicles are being driven by someone using a handheld cell phone and this includes almost all people ages 20 and above. People of all ages are using a variety of handheld devices, such as cell phones, mp3 players, personal digital assistants, and navigation devices, when they are behind the wheel.

Is it safe to use hands-free (headset, speakerphone, or other device) cell phones while driving?

No. Research findings say that the use of hands free device does not reduce the risk of texting and driving. Hand-held devices may be slightly worse, but hands-free devices are not risk-free. It makes the driver miss visual cues vital in the avoidance or prevention of car crash.

What are the penalties for a driver involved in an accident and found out to be texting and driving prior to the accident?

Under Utah’s law, someone caught texting and driving now faces up to three months in jail and up to a $750 fine, a misdemeanor. If they cause injury or death, the punishment can grow to a felony and up to a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison.

Texting law in Utah is a primary law. What does primary law mean?

Utah’s texting laws are considered “primary” laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees you texting while driving, pulls you over, and issues you a citation.

What type of violation is texting and driving?

Penalties are a class C misdemeanor, or class B if the texting causes an accident or if the driver has a prior conviction. If you have been in an accident due to a cell phone users negligence and would like a free consultation, feel free to contact us at Christensen & Hymas. To learn more, visit our “Texting and Driving” article.

Photo courtesy of Business Week.

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