Pennsylvania Law Increases Texting While Driving Penalties
On November 4th 2016 Governor Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania approved and signed a new bill known as “Daniel’s Law”. This legislation was passed in an effort to thwart drivers from utilizing any and all hand held devices while driving by increasing penalties for those charged with and convicted of “distracted driving”. In particular, when a vehicular accident occurs resulting in severe injury or death, the penalties associated with the distracted driving violation significantly increases. Governor Wolf took a hard stance when signing this legislation into law. He stated that texting while driving “has been allowed to go under-punished for far too long, [and] has been demonstrated to be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
The city of Philadelphia was the first Magesterial District in Pennsylvania to implement a texting and driving law. In 2010, the current Governor of Pennsylvania passed a state-wide law following suit, however, current officials deemed the consequences of these violations as not sever enough. The frequency and severity of these car accident related injuries, resulted in major trauma to the victims and even loss of life. Circumstances required more stringent penalties be assigned to the perpetrators.
Pennsylvania Distracted Driver Law (S.B. 314)
- That a driver is not allowed to read, write or send a text-based message through a wireless phone, PDA, smart phone or laptop.
- That the law applies to text messages, e-mails, instant messages or any other type of written communication.
- That state law takes precedence over any local law.
Rights of an Officer to Stop a Vehicle in Bucks County, PA
Pennsylvania’s texting and driving law allows any police officer to pull you over for simply seeing you sending, receiving or writing a text-based message. They do not need have to have any other reason for stopping you! This is true in all but four US States. This activity is legal and enforceable as a Primary Law; which means that an officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic violation taking place. This also means that law enforcement are able to pull a driver over for said reasons, and all infractions, violations, and/or resulting charges are deemed legal.
Daniel’s Law Pennsylvania
The law was named after Daniel Gallatin, a decorated veteran and fireman, who was tragically killed after being struck by someone texting while driving in 2013. The most recent addition to Daniel’s Law, increases penalties against drivers in cases of extreme injury and death. The Bill was introduced by state Representative Jaret Gibbons, and brings the penalty for distracted driving accidents in line with drunk driving offenses, such as homicide by vehicle and aggravated assault while under the influence.
Motor Vehicle Accidents Involving Distracted Drivers
In 2014, there were 3,179 documented deaths, and 431,000 injuries caused by distracted drivers operating motor vehicles across the country.
During any moment of any day across the United States, the number of individuals operating handheld devices while driving is astounding. Studies indicate, since 2010, that approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving.
The average text requires five seconds of attention taken off the roadway. A vehicle that is traveling 55 mph, can cover the length of a football field. Now imagine doing that blindfolded!
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving distracted driving, it is important to know your rights. The injuries sustained and emotional turmoil associated with such an event can be overwhelming. Be sure to have experienced counsel by your side to guide you through this difficult process.
For additional information on this topic, please visit New PA law increases penalties for texting while driving.