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    No mor txting while drving!

    Date: 12.30.07 | by Judge Tom.


    Starting in 2008, states began cracking down on teen drivers and distractions while behind the wheel.  Since then, most states have banned texting while driving [TWD]. As of early 2012, there are only a dozen states without such laws. Statistics show that driving “intexticated” causes thousands of accidents and injuries every year.

    Photo by Ford (Flickr)

    In Utah, TWD is considered negligent and reckless driving.  If caught, fines run up to $750.00 and three months in jail.   If someone is injured or dies as a result of TWD, the maximum penalty is a $10,000 fine and 15 years in prison.  In Alaska, imprisonment may be up to 20 years.

    In Oregon, drivers under 18 are prohibited from using a cellphone, blue tooth or texting when driving. A ticket brings a $97.00 fine.

    In Washington, using a cellphone or texting while driving results in a $124.00 fine.

    In Nebraska, cellphone use and texting is also outlawed with fines to be set by the court.

    Similar laws go into effect in New Jersey on March 1, 2008 and in California on July 1, 2008.

    Effective January 1, 2012, it is illegal for anyone to text while driving in Nevada as well as using handheld devices. The three month warning period ends December 31, 2011. Tickets will be issued starting the new year in 2012.

    In North Dakota, drivers under 18 are barred from using cellphones in their cars, and everyone is prohibited from text messaging.

    If you think these fines are high, make sure you don’t break any traffic laws in England.  The penalty for texting behind the wheel includes fines exceeding $5,000.00 and 2 years in jail.  Great Britain also punishes “inconsiderate drivers” for such activities as improper use of headlights and driving through a puddle and splashing someone with fines over $2,500.00.

    In January, 2008 in England, Kiera [age 25] was found guilty by a jury and sentenced to four years in jail for hitting a bicyclist. She was going 45 mph in a 30 mph zone and didn’t see 19-year-old Jordan because she was texting at the time.  Jordan died later that day.  Kiera was also banned from driving for five years.  Hampshire police sargeant Alyson West said outside court: “Nothing is so important that you cannot wait until you reach your destination or pull over and stop.”

    Other countries restricting cell phone use and texting while driving include Canada [the provinces of Nova Scotia and Manitoba], Australia, New Zealand, Guam, and Bermuda.

    In early January, 2012, 18 year-old Taylor Sauer was driving home from college to visit her parents over the weekend. She was talking to a friend on Facebook and prophetically signed off with “driving and Facebooking is not safe – haha.” She was going 80 mph and hit the back of a tanker truck going 15 mph up a hill. Taylor died instantly. Her parents are now active in getting their Idaho legislature to outlaw texting and driving. See Taylor’s story here.

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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