Texting While Driving in North Carolina

According to the North Carolina Traffic Crash Facts Report, 1,470 died in traffic accidents in 2019; 6 were a direct result of texting while driving. While this may not seem like a huge number, these are preventable deaths. Texting while driving may not seem like a big deal in the moment, but an accident can happen in the blink of an eye. For everyone’s safety, it is important to focus on the road and wait until you are safely stopped to address any texts or emails.

If you have been involved in an accident where the other driver was texting, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to discuss your legal options.

North Carolina Statute

North Carolina Statute §20-137.4A explicitly prohibits texting while driving. It is illegal for any driver to use their phone for texting or emailing on a public street or highway. The statute specifically defines “use” as:

“Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or Read any electronic mail or text message transmitted to the device or stored within the device, provided that this prohibition shall not apply to any name or number stored in the device nor to any caller identification information.” N.C.G.S §20-137.4A

This applies to regular drivers, as well as commercial drivers. It does not apply when a vehicle is stopped. The statute does not apply to police officers, firefighters or ambulance drivers who are performing official duties.

Teen Driving

In 2019 there were approximately 51,000 car crashes involving teen drivers. Of those crashes, 10,184 were a result of distracted driving. Teens are not only inexperienced drivers, but also see the world through a different lens than an adult. They may think of themselves as indestructible, and this coupled with inexperience can be a deadly combination on the road. If you have teen drivers on the road, it is not only important to set a good example when you are driving, but also have a candid conversation about texting while driving.

Below are some key tips for handling distracted driving with your teen:

  • Set ground rules for prohibiting your teen from driving with their friends in the car. The likelihood of an accident almost doubles when there is another teen in the car.
  • Set a good example for your child by not engaging in any distracted driving practices. Show your teen how important it is to focus on the road and practice safe driving.
  • Have candid discussions about texting and driving. Also address other possible distractions, such as eating, reaching for objects or talking with a passenger.
Primary and Secondary Enforcement

Primary enforcement of texting while driving means that a law enforcement official can pull you over if they see you texting. Secondary enforcement means that a law enforcement official can only pull you over for texting while driving if you are breaking another law at the time. In other words, when a state uses primary enforcement, texting while driving is enough to warrant the police pulling you over. North Carolina follows a primary enforcement method.

Fines and Penalties

For most drivers, a texting while driving citation is a civil infraction, resulting in a $100 fine and court costs. However, there are some exceptions. For example, a school bus driver who is texting while driving may be charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor. A commercial driver who is caught texting while driving could have their license suspended after multiple offenses. It is important to note that these penalties may change. Highway safety advocates are pushing to make the penalty for texting while driving more severe. Their hope is to deter more people from texting while driving.

How It Can Affect Your Insurance

According to North Carolina statute, a citation for texting while driving does not necessarily increase your insurance premium. It does, however, increase your risk for a collision, which would affect your insurance rates. Highway safety advocates are pushing to change how texting citations affect your insurance, so it is important to check state statutes and with your insurance company directly if there are any specific questions.

Contact Us Today

Whether you have received a traffic ticket or been involved in an accident involving texting while driving, we can help. Contact one of the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule your initial consultation and learn how we can advocate for you.

For your convenience and safety, we now officer phone and video conferencing. If you prefer and in-person consultation, we have three easy to reach locations in Uptown Charlotte, Monroe, and Mooresville.