Legislatures are sending a clear message to distracted drivers these days – put down that cell phone! Will drivers listen?
Accident victims of distracted drivers are applauding these initiatives, but unfortunately, they are also wondering why it took so long. If you suffered injury because of a distracted driver, you don’t have to wait to file a personal injury claim. An auto accident attorney in Preston County can help with establishing driver negligence and receive the compensation you deserve.
Cell Phone Restrictions in West Virginia
Almost 80 percent of the states, including West Virginia, have enacted restrictions on cell phone usage while operating a motor vehicle. In 2012, West Virginia passed legislation designed to clamp down on hand-held cell phone usage by all drivers.
The legislation is a response to evidence connecting distracted driving with an increasing number of automobile injuries and fatalities. A 2009 traffic study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety concluded cell phone use was the primary culprit behind nearly 1,000 deaths and 24,000 injuries.
Like many states, West Virginia’s new cell phone restrictions treat the use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones differently. For hand-held devices, West Virginia has taken an age neutral approach, banning the device for all motorists regardless of age. For hands-free devices, the new law retains the current ban on minors driving on a level one or level two instruction permit. Other motorists are unrestricted, so they can use hands-free communication devices while driving.
For its first year on the books, the hand-held restriction will constitute a secondary offense, where law enforcement must observe the driver committing another traffic offense, such as speeding, before ticketing the driver for illegal cell phone use. On July 1, 2013, the violation will become a primary offense where law enforcement will not need another reason for stopping and ticketing the motorist.
The law sets an increasing threshold of fines for repeat offenders starting with $100 for first-timers, $200 for second timers, and $300 for third and subsequent offenders. Distracted drivers accumulating three or more violations will also receive three points added on their driving record.