Currently, there is no national law that bans texting or using a cellular phone while driving.  Although many states have taken the initiative to create their own laws to address this issue, the problem of distracted driving still runs rampant across the nation.
 
For example, some states have chosen to ban cell phone use altogether while driving unless you happen to be a school bus driver or novice driver.  Currently, 29 states (including D.C.) ban all kinds of cellular phone use by “novice drivers” or those who only have a learner permit or provisional license.
 
In addition, 18 states and D.C. ban school bus drivers from all cell phone use when there are passengers on board.  However, there are a handful of states that prohibit all drivers from using hand held cell phones from behind the wheel.  Basically, the only option in these states is to use a hands free cellular device.   
 
Amazingly, texting while driving is a separate issue addressed by some state legislatures.  An increased number of states (around 30) currently have laws on the books that ban both sending text messages and checking text messages while driving.  Also, a minority of the states (around 8) have already banned text messaging for novice drivers and a couple states have banned text messaging for school bus drivers.
 
Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule.  Exemptions may apply if the car is in neutral or parked and or if the call is placed to 911, etc.  But the fact remains that even with these laws in place, the temptation is often too great to overlook the rule of law for many drivers.  Unfortunately as a result, the laws in place do not accomplish the public policy of preventing distracted driving.
 
Finally, I recently heard a news broadcast dealing with this very issue in California.  Is reveled that even though a complete ban on cell phone has been implemented for a while in this state, many drivers have already learned the dangerous behavior.  Because distracted driving has naturally become ingrained (namely through practice or example) drivers likely feel that little to no consequence will become of their choice to break the law.
 
Perhaps it is an enforcement issue or a matter for the courts to decide, especially for repeat offenders, when it comes to the proper punishment.  Either way, it looks as if America may be moving in the right direction for safety, yet regrettably, the law has not caught up with most offenders.   

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Albert Gustav Stoll, Jr.

Licensed since 1993

Member at firm Albert G. Stoll, Jr. | A Law Corporation

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