Texting while driving is a serious problem across the country, and using a handheld phone for any activities while driving can result in serious and deadly injuries. Many collisions occur because of distracted driving or texting while driving. Indeed, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving resulted in a total of 3,142 traffic fatalities in 2019 alone and thousands more accidents and injuries. Drivers can be assessed significant monetary penalties for texting and driving, and distracted drivers can end up being responsible for damages in a distracted driving accident claim. Motorists can also face additional penalties for texting while driving in California, including points on a driver’s license and insurance increases. Our Los Angeles distracted driving lawyers can tell you more about the penalties for texting and driving.
Possible Penalties for Texting While Driving in California
There are a number of possible penalties that a motorist can be assessed for texting while driving in California, and these penalties do not even include penalties associated with a criminal offense related to reckless driving or causing bodily injuries in an accident resulting from distracted driving. In those types of cases, penalties can include jail time or prison time, depending upon the particular facts of the case and the driver’s criminal record. Beyond such criminal penalties associated with a serious distracted driving collision, the following are potential penalties that a motorist may be assessed or may incur for texting and driving in California:
- $162 fine or more;
- Fees and assessments;
- Points on your driver’s license;
- Insurance rate increase;
- Negligent operator designation;
- Suspension of driver’s license; and/or
- Revocation of driver’s license.
Increased Fines in California Under AB 47
California legislation, AB 47, took effect on July 1, 2021, and it increased penalties for motorists who are caught texting while driving or otherwise using a handheld device while operating a vehicle. For quite some time, California has had laws in place to restrict the use of handheld technology while driving. Yet until the passage of AB 47, motorists faced relatively minor penalties. Now, if a driver is stopped for texting and driving, the minimum penalty will be a fine of $162, which may have additional fees or assessments based on the facts of the case and where the fine was issued.
In addition, AB 47 permitted other penalties to be assessed, including driver’s license points for distracted driving. If a motorist violates California’s handheld phone ban while driving, that motorist will be assessed one driver’s license point for every repeat offense in a 36-month period. In other words, if a driver is cited for texting while driving and is stopped and cited again for the same offense within 36 months, then the driver will also get a violation point on their record.
Driver’s license points can result in auto insurance increases. Further, when a driver accumulates a certain number of points, that motorist can be designated as a negligent operator under the Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS), which can ultimately lead to driver’s license suspensions or revocations.
Contact a Los Angeles Distracted Driving Lawyer
If you were injured in a collision caused by a distracted driver, or if you have questions about penalties for texting while driving, one of our Los Angeles distracted driving accident attorneys can assist you. Contact El Dabe Ritter Trial Lawyers for more information.