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Texting While Driving is a Serious Driving Issue

Distracted driving accounts for numerous accidents in Virginia, explains Virginia personal injury attorney Jeffrey J. Downey.  In addition to making such conduct illegal, countries are experimenting with creative solutions.

Law enforcement officials in Australia are testing its systems whereby it can detect drivers using their phones in their hands with high-definition cameras.  For now, the drivers are getting off with a warning letter over the next three months wherein the fines will be start at over $200 and rise from there.

In Virginia, Code of Virginia statute §46.2-1078.1, the use of handheld personal communications devices in certain motor vehicles can lead to a fine of $125, with the fine doubling after that.    Under no circumstances can a person text or read email while operating a vehicle in motion with a handheld device. Such statutes create duties for drivers, the violation of which will be clear evidence of negligence, explains Downey.

In Maryland, all drivers are prohibited from using a cell phone without a hands-free device while operating a motor vehicle. The first fine is $40 and subsequent offenses are $100.  The law considers this violation a secondary offense, meaning a driver must first be committing a primary offense such as speeding or reckless driving.

A year ago, I wrote about cell phone records being used in a traffic accident.

More recently, earlier this year a lawyer in Richmond, Virginia was charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter for killing three pedestrians standing alongside a disabled vehicle in the left lane of Route 288 in Goochland County a year before in June 2018.  Virginia Circuit Court Judge Timothy K. Sanner sentenced Claire C. Carr had reportedly been texting on her phone minutes before the crash.  Carr was sentenced to one-year, following which will the lawyer’s driver’s license was suspended for six months.

There is no question that texting while driving puts other drivers at risk, explains Fairfax personal injury attorney Jeffrey Downey.  Laws prohibiting texting create statutory duties and standards against which drivers will be held accountable.  Robot cameras are already a responsible for millions in fines being paid by drivers who never got pulled over and often lack any recollection of the events giving rise to the violations.  Since many of those fines are characterized as non-criminal fines, the states often do not protect due process rights, like the right to confront witnesses against you.  States try and shift the traditional burden of proof to the owner of the vehicle, who often assumed to be the guilty driver unless he can come forward with proof that others were driving.

If you or a loved one have suffered personal injury in Virginia, contact the Law Office of Jeffrey J. Downey for a free consultation. We practice in Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Our office is conveniently located near Tysons Corner.


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