Text And Drive Penalties: Does Utah's New Law Go Too Far?

Utah passed one of the toughest laws in the United States against the growing epidemic of texting and driving. If you are caught texting and driving in Utah, you could be looking at prison time of up to 15 years if you cause a death and a fine of up to $10,000! If you are merely caught texting and driving, the punishment is up to 3 months in jail and up to a $750 fine.

Utah’s new law became affective in May of 2009. The penalties for texting are comparable to those of drunk driving if someone is killed in the accident. If you are texting while driving in Utah, your actions are considered reckless. Choosing to text and drive is considered to be the same thing as choosing to drive drunk. Now, this is Utah, what is Kentucky doing about texting and driving?


Kentucky and texting while driving
Kentucky takes texting while drive seriously. In fact, Kentucky passed laws that have made it illegal to use a handheld phone and text on any device while driving. This is a great start, but there are still too many accidents that happen as a result of distracted driving. Many of my clients have been injured due to a distracted driver. Distracted driving can be anything from texting to picking something up off of the floor. It's dangerous, and the consequences are severe and can change your life forever.

Related: Let’s Make A Move Against Texting And Driving

How do you prove someone was texting and driving?
These texting and driving laws may seem harsh, but the laws are there to save lives. Some studies show that talking on a cell phone while driving is as dangerous as driving with a blood alcohol level of .08, which is the legal limit in Kentucky. However, it can be difficult for police to prove that someone was texting while driving. How do you prove someone was texting and driving? Unfortunately, there is no test to prove that you were texting like there is for drunk driving. A breathalyzer makes the prosecution's job fairly easy. With texting and driving, police have to rely on witnesses, and witnesses don't always remember the event clearly. They only see the action. It could be texting, or it could be dialing a phone number. Maybe the best evidence will be statements by the offender. Any statements can be used if they are made spontaneously. This coupled with the phone would be sufficient proof. However, how do the police get access to the phone before the text messages are erased? They could do that with a warrant, but this takes time.

I wonder whether the texting activity is the same as dialing a phone. It is the same action. It takes the same level of concentration. Should both Kentucky and Utah law be expanded? The Utah law also assumes the driver knows the risks of texting and driving. This is important because it goes a step further than many other texting laws. Some other laws must prove that the driver was aware of the risks associated with the activity before engaging in that activity. This is hard to do.

Related: Should Texting and Driving Be Illegal?

One way we can prevent distracted driving is to put our phones away before we start the car. It may seem harmless to look at a text message you just received, but looking away for even a few seconds can turn deadly. Please always stay focused on the road and drive distraction free.

Michael Schafer
The Personal Injury Attorney for Louisville and Kentucky
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