This spring, law enforcement has taken aim at distracted drivers. If you recently received a ticket for driving while distracted, it may have surprised you, especially if your cellphone was in your pocket.
Distractions behind the wheel continue to cause a rising number of accidents and injuries across the country, and the nationwide effort to bring awareness to the dangers of taking your attention off the road for any reason has intensified.
Pay attention or pay a fine
By now, most drivers know that using a cellphone for texting, talking, or utilizing apps or other programs may lead to a citation. A ticket for using a hand-held device while driving can cost you a fine up to $400 for your first offense and up to $800 and three points for a third offense. You also risk a 90-day suspension of your license for the third violation. However, while they may not be illegal, many things can distract you behind the wheel and cause careless driving, for example:
- Eating or drinking
- Fixing your hair or makeup
- Reading maps or activating navigation systems
- Adjusting entertainment systems
- Lighting a cigarette
- Interacting with passengers
If you swerve, drive too slowly, miss a stop sign or operate your vehicle in some way that a police officer concludes may be due to any distraction, the officer may pull you over and issue a ticket.
What's the big deal?
It may seem like a minor offense. Police did not arrest you, and you aren't going to jail. You may think the best thing to do is to pay the fine and put it behind you. However, the offense will then go on your driving record. If you make the same mistake again, the penalties increase. Points on your license add up quickly, and you may suddenly find yourself with a suspended license and no way to get to work. Maybe that has already happened to you.
You can fight traffic violations, including those for distracted driving. Having a skilled attorney by your side will provide you with the guidance that may allow you to negotiate the charges against you. Your lawyer may be able to spare you the negative consequences, whether this is your first offense or you are only a point away from a license suspension.