Alcohol and other intoxicants are certainly not the only causes of injuries and fatal accidents on Michigan roads. Texting while driving, or using a cell phone in any manner that takes a driver’s attention off the road and puts it somewhere else, is a danger to you and to other drivers around you. But aside from being a danger, it’s also against the law.
What is the law in Michigan regarding texting and driving?
In Michigan, it is against the law to read a text, type a text, or send a text on any wireless two-way device (cellphone or other), while driving a car. In other words, if you are behind the wheel of a moving vehicle, or a running vehicle that is briefly stopped in traffic, you are not allowed to be texting in any way, shape or form.
Each city also has their own ordinances that govern cell phone use while driving. Some cities have banned only texting while driving, while others have outlawed any and all cell phone use for drivers, including calls. It is important for you to find out what your city or town’s ordinances are, in case they differ from state law.
Can drivers use a bluetooth device instead?
Bluetooth devices, which allow for voice activated, hands free usage, are not illegal in Michigan. However, the law changes rapidly in order to keep up with emerging technology, and if data reveals that bluetooth devices compromise a driver’s ability to drive safely, they will likely become illegal for drivers in the future.
As of now, a driver in Michigan can still use a bluetooth device while driving without breaking the law, but you should be aware of the risks. Although bluetooth devices allow for hands free, voice activated use, they still take a driver’s attention away from the road. As such, they can still be a danger to you and other drivers.
Is texting and driving really dangerous?
Numerous studies have been done in recent years to determine whether or not texting while driving is actually dangerous, and the results are staggering. Texting while driving falls into the category known as “distracted driving”, where the driver’s attention in on things other than the road and surrounding vehicles.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), because texting requires manual, visual and cognitive attention from the driver, it is considered to be one of the worst forms of distraction. Based on a study performed by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, texting while driving makes one 23 times more likely to be involved in a crash. In fact, distracted driving is considered to be just as dangerous as drunk driving.
What is the penalty for texting and driving?
Under Michigan law, texting while driving is considered to be a civil infraction, which means that it is not a criminal offense. Like getting a speeding ticket or a parking ticket, texting while driving will result in a fine that you will have to pay.
For first time offenses, the cost is $100, but all subsequent offenses will be a $200 ticket. Interestingly, there are no points assigned to this infraction, which means that you will not get any points on your licence, the way you would with a speeding ticket.
However, if distracted driving was the cause of a crash in which someone was seriously injured or killed, you would be facing felony charges and many years in prison if convicted. Because there is no way to know what the outcome will be of using your cell phone when driving, it is best to be safe rather than sorry. So we encourage all of our clients to avoid texting and driving, for their safety and for the safety of others.
Are there exceptions to this law?
Yes, there are. According to Michigan law, a driver who is using their cellphone to call 911 or another local law enforcement agency in order to report an emergency is not subject to punishment. Also, a driver would not be penalized for using their cell phone to report hazardous road conditions, a traffic accident, or a situation in which they believe that their personal safety is at risk.
Other examples of exceptions to the law include reporting a crime in progress or a crime that has yet to happen, or an emergency responder operating within the confines of their job, which would include police officers, firemen and paramedics.
How to avoid texting while driving
For some people, the impulse to answer a text, check an email, or update a social media account is almost too much to ignore. They struggle to overcome their desire to respond to every beep and chime that their phone makes. If you find that you fall into this category, and struggle to ignore alerts from your phone, you may have to take an extra step or two to ensure safe driving.
Putting your phone where you cannot reach it, or cannot hear it before you start driving would be helpful. Some people turn down the volume and then place it in their glove box. That way, it’s accessible in the event of an emergency, but not available to check at every stop light.
It is also worth remembering that if you have children, your actions are seen, and will be copied. If you want your children to be safe drivers when they are old enough to get a licence, you will need to make a concerted effort to not use your phone while driving, so as to set a good example.
Distracted driving defense attorneys
At Kronzek & Cronkright, our attorneys are skilled in defending against distracted driving charges. If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for texting while driving which caused an accident, you are going to need hard working, professional lawyers on your side.
So don’t wait. Contact us today at 866-766-5245. The sooner we can begin ensuring that your rights are protected, and your defense is being constructed properly, the sooner you will be able to get back to your life.
To talk to a distracted driving attorney today