Distractions while driving are not new, but they are a growing cause for concern for drivers in North Carolina.
Over 250,000 traffic accidents occur in North Carolina each year, and according to the Charlotte Department of Transportation, distracted driving was a contributing factor in 22% of all crashes in the city last year. That figure is roughly the same as alcohol, drug use, aggressive driving, running red lights, and speeding combined.
While many activities that would be considered “distracted driving”- such as eating or talking on the phone – are still legal in North Carolina, texting while driving is against the law, at least under certain conditions.
Let us explain.
Texting While Driving in North Carolina
N.C.G.S. Chapter 20-137.4A(a) prohibits anyone who is operating a motor vehicle from:
- Manually entering multiple letters or text in a device as a means of communicating with another person
- Reading any electronic mail or text message transmitted to a 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
That means that you cannot type text into your phone or device to send to another person, or read email or text messages on the screen of your device. You can, however, send text messages using the talk to text method, and read names or numbers that are on your screen as part of a caller ID.
North Carolina law also allows you to text if your vehicle is parked or at a stop, and allows the use of factory-installed and aftermarket GPS devices as well as voice-activated devices by drivers.
It should also be noted that in North Carolina it is still legal to drive with a cellphone in your hand.
Enforcement of the Texting and Driving Law
North Carolina is a primary enforcement state when it comes to texting and driving laws, which means that an officer can pull you over and give you a citation if they suspect they have witnessed you texting while driving, regardless of whether your vehicle is under control or you are obeying all other traffic laws.
This leaves the judgement of whether you are actually in violation of the law to an officer’s discretion when they see the glow of a screen on in your vehicle or a device in your hand.
Violating the texting and driving law carries a fine of at least $100 plus court costs for all drivers. If you drive a school bus or commercial vehicle, violating this law can result in a charge of a Class 2 misdemeanor.
SeiferFlatow Can Help
While driving distracted is dangerous, North Carolina traffic law can be complicated and open to interpretation. If you receive a ticket for texting while driving, or any other traffic violation, having an experienced traffic attorney on your side can save you from the costly penalties, hassle, and loss of driving privileges that come with simply paying ticket fines and admitting guilt. Contact the law offices of SeiferFlatow to see how we can help.