How a simple act of distracted driving can lead to charges or reckless driving — or even negligent homicide
While almost all of us take the threat of drunken driving seriously, distracted driving isn’t always regarded with the same level of gravity. That’s a shame, because distracted drivers are responsible for a staggering 1.3 million collisions in the US each year. Additionally, nine people in the US lose their lives every day as a result of distracted driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Let’s take a closer look at the risks of distracted driving, and how Connecticut state law treats drivers who are convicted of this offense.
The Perils of Distracted Driving
Distracted driving can take a variety of forms (including eating and drinking), but in today’s world it usually involves a smartphone. Texting while driving — or simply looking down at one’s phone while driving — can lead to fatal consequences in a matter of seconds. Texting, or reading a text, takes the driver’s eyes away from the phone for a minimum of five seconds. Serious accidents, meanwhile, can occur in only half that time.
To help illustrate the scope of the problem, let’s review some relevant distracted driving facts.
- Cell phones are responsible for roughly half of all collisions involving teenaged drivers
- Reaching for a cell phone can increase the likelihood of an accident by 800-percent
- Some form of distraction is a contributing factor in 80-percent of collisions
- In addition to more than 3,000 deaths, roughly 400,000 people are seriously injured by distracted driving each year
So how do states (and Connecticut specifically) handle cases of distracted driving? More seriously than you might imagine.
Distracted Driving Laws in Connecticut
The state of Connecticut has banned all cell phone use while driving, including texting. This ban applies to all drivers, regardless of age. If a driver holds a cell phone to her ear and makes a call or speaks to someone else, she is in violation of the law. This applies not only when vehicles are in motion, but also when cars and trucks are stopped at a traffic light or in a traffic jam. Drivers can, however, use a cell phone if they are parked safely on the side of the road or on a street and out of traffic.
There are a few exceptions that apply to this law. First, drivers are allowed to use their devices to contact emergency personnel. Hands-free cell phones are also exempt from the state’s ban on phone usage, though this exemption does not apply to drivers under 18 or school bus drivers. The same rules and exemptions apply to texting on electronic devices.
Penalties for violating this statute increase in the event of repeat violations ($150 to $300 to $500). Connecticut drivers can also have points assessed against their license for distracted driving violations, possibly leading to a license suspension.
In more serious cases, Connecticut law allow for motorists to be charged with reckless driving or negligent homicide in addition to distracted driving.
Because distracted driving violations can put your license in jeopardy and possibly even lead to jail time if another party is injured or killed, it’s important to speak with a lawyer about your next steps.
Finding the Right Distracted Driving Attorney
At Brickley Law, we have the necessary experience and deep understanding of state statutes to litigate even the most complex distracted driving cases. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us fight for your legal rights.