St. Joseph Michigan Criminal Defense Blog

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The Truth About Texting While Driving

Texting While Driving

Michigan has had a law against texting while driving since 2010, but in October of this year the law will change. A separate section will then apply to commercial drivers and school bus drivers. Also, the law does not make texting while driving a crime. Instead it is a civil infraction, like speeding, which can only result in a fine. It is a non-reporting offense, so no points are added to a person’s license unless they are operating a commercial vehicle after October of this year.

So how do you avoid those fines?

  1. Don’t use your cell phone to text while your vehicle is moving. The civil infraction only prevents texting while operating a moving motor vehicle.
  1. Don’t take calls on your cell phone if you are operating a commercial vehicle unless:
    • You can do so without holding the phone (such as with a hands-free device).
    • You do not have to push more than one button to dial or answer the phone.
    • You can avoid moving out of your seat to reach your phone.

The law is relatively narrow in scope. It carves out a large exception for drivers who are reporting traffic accidents, medical emergencies, serious road hazards, or any situation that the driver believes could threaten his or her personal safety or result in a crime. It also does not apply to active-duty law enforcement, fire department personnel, or emergency medical responders.

If the law does apply, then violators must pay a fine of up to $100 for a first offense or $200 for later offenses. This is a relatively minor fine, but a traffic stop by an officer can still take time out of your day and could result in more serious charges. Challenging the ticket can still require two court appearances.

It is better to wait to read and respond to text messages until your vehicle is safely stopped in a parking lot. Beside avoiding a ticket, it can help prevent accidents that can be quite serious as a result of distracted driving.

*Please note: Every case is different, and there may be some aspect of your particular cas which may result in an outsome other than is descriged above. This post is not intended as legal advice and may not apply to your particular case. It is always best to contact our office for a consultation if you have been or believe you may be charged with a crime.

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