Distracted driving occurs when a driver takes their attention off of the road because of the engagement with another activity. Drivers can be distracted by other drivers or because they are:
- Putting on makeup
- Eating or drinking
- Inputting navigation information
- Changing the song playing
While these forms of distracted driving are unsafe, they are not illegal. The most common kind of distracted driving involves texting and driving, which is illegal. According to Texas Transportation Code § 545.4251, drivers are not allowed to use their cellphones to send, receive, write, or read electronic messages unless they are stopped or using hands-free methods.
Electronic messages include data you read or enter into your phone, and you can receive a ticket for:
- Checking your email
- Scrolling on social media or the internet
- Video chatting
How Much Does a Distracted Driving Ticket Cost?
Violating distracted driving laws is an offense that can be penalized by:
- A fine of $25-$99 for first-time offenders
- A fine of $100-$200 for second-time (and subsequent) offenders
If the driver’s actions also led to the death or serious injury of another person, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $4,000.
It is also important to note that violators receive points on their licenses, which can impact your car insurance rates. The rates can increase by up to 20% depending on your insurer’s policy.
Defending Yourself Against Distracted Driving Ticket Offenses
If you get a ticket, you can either plead:
- No contest
- Not guilty
Pleading guilty or no contest means that you will be expected to pay the ticket and fines. However, you and your attorney can try to negotiate for lower fines and/or the points you receive. Pleading not guilty allows you to present your case to a judge, which can either lead to having the penalties voided or lowered.
Possible defenses to a distracted driving offense include that the driver used their phone:
- For navigation purposes (i.e. with a global positioning system or navigation system)
- In conjunction with a hands-free device (such as a speakerphone, telephone attachment, or another function or piece of equipment that allows a driver to use their device without their hands)
- To contact emergency services, report a crime, or enter information into an app that gives users information about the traffic and road conditions
- To read a message that the driver reasonably believed concerned an emergency
- To share information related to their occupational duties with a dispatcher, digital network, software application service, or to activate a function that plays music—when the device is attached to the vehicle
If you receive a ticket, you should immediately contact Attorney J. Roland Jeter. You deserve to be well defended and have someone on your side. While you may be tempted to just pay the fine and avoid court, traffic tickets stay on your driving records for years and have a financial impact on offenders.
Retaining J. Roland Jeter, P.C. means having honest, reliable representation when you appear in municipal court, and he can work to:
- Lower your fines and penalties
- Strategize your defense plan
- Help you gather evidence to substantiate your claim