Cell Phone Use While Driving and Its Legal Implications
On May 10th, 2021, tragedy struck on I-5 in Tacoma, Washington when Kyang Park’s tire check turned fatal. After pulling over on a shoulder due to a flat tire, Mr. Park stepped out of his vehicle and onto the right-hand lane to examine it, only to be struck and killed by another driver. The driver, 29-year-old Karley Cecil, was reportedly on her phone and updating her Facebook posts at the time of the accident. Her distracted driving and negligence resulted in the untimely death of the 78-year-old man.
The wide-spread use of phones on the road is a notorious issue across the country. Studies show that the act of using a cell phone while driving causes a substantial amount of car accidents in the U.S., which is shown to be at around 10%. While there are laws in place to dissuade drivers from using cell phones while driving, there are still some that ignore the dangers and potential legal consequences. Normally cell phone use while driving is just a minor traffic violation, but depending on the circumstances it can be elevated up to a Class A Felony, such as Vehicular Homicide if similar circumstances such as Karley Cecil’s are present. When facing such charges, it is important to seek out an attorney that is both knowledgeable and skilled to work in this area of law. The Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer is a top choice for those in need of a defense against these types of charges. With a wealth of experience defending our clients, our attorneys work tirelessly to create strong defenses to achieve the best possible outcome.
Legal Implications of Cell Phone Use While Driving
According to the Revised Code of Washington the use of an electronic device is holding the device in either or both hands. However, using a finger to skip a song, answer a call, or turn your phone off may be allowed. Additionally, using a car’s electronic display does not fall under this law. The first offense is considered a traffic violation that incurs a $136.00 fine. Although this may seem like a minor amount, it is important to note that any traffic violation can be reported to your insurance company, potentially leading to an increase in premiums. Therefore, the total cost of having the ticket being found committed could be higher than its face value, making it an indirectly expensive offense. If your actions lead to an accident or injury, consequences you face could be more severe, such as a criminal charge for Reckless Driving, Vehicular Assault, or even Vehicular Homicide. The different charges and their respective penalties are as follows:
Reckless Driving: This generally means operating a motor vehicle in such a way that it is endangering others around you. It is classified as a Gross Misdemeanor and punishable by up to $5,000.00 in fines and up to 364 days in jail.
Vehicular Assault: If you cause injury to another person while distracted on your phone, you could be charged with Vehicular Assault. This offense is a Class B Felony and carries up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000.00 fine.
Vehicular Homicide: If an individual causes the death of another person while using their cell phone while driving, they may face charges of Vehicular Homicide. This particular crime is a Class A Felony which carries penalties that range up to life in prison and up to a $50,000.00 fine.
Defending Against Criminal Charges Related to Cell Phone Use While Driving
One potential defense is to challenge the validity of the evidence. For example, if you were charged with texting while driving, your attorney may argue that the police officer did not have sufficient evidence to prove that you were texting. This may involve challenging the officer’s testimony or requesting a review of the phone records to determine if you were actually using your phone at the time of the alleged offense.
Another potential defense is to argue that the police officer violated your rights during the stop. For example, if you were stopped for using your phone, but the officer did not have probable cause to make the stop, your attorney may argue that the stop was unlawful and that any evidence obtained after the stop should be suppressed.
We Are Here For You
If you find yourself facing any charges mentioned in this article, hiring a lawyer is paramount to protecting your rights and future. The attorneys at the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer are highly proficient in defending such cases and will work diligently to provide the best possible outcome for you.
Don’t wait, contact the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer today to schedule your free consultation. Our phone number is (360) 334-6277.