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What are the consequences for texting and driving in California?

People's burgeoning attachment to mobile devices continues to fuel an epidemic of accidents caused by distracted drivers. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, distracted drivers are implicated in more than 80 percent of all car accidents. Nationally, more than 2,000 people are killed every year in accidents involving inattentive drivers.

The state of California has attempted to crack down on the use of mobile devices while driving by enacting a series of laws that curtails the use of handheld phones, limits hands-free phones, and bans texting or messaging while behind the wheel of a car. Non-emergency use of handheld cell phones and all forms of texting or messaging are prohibited. Hands-free devices can be used by drivers aged 18 or over, as long as both ears are not covered. Drivers under 18 are prohibited from using any electronic device at any time other than in an emergency situation.

Violation of any of these laws will result in a small fine and the addition of points to a driver's record, which can raise insurance rates. Such laws are designed to prevent car accidents, but the deterrent effects are simply not sufficient to keep people off their devices. And they don't do much to compensate those injured in accidents caused by distracted drivers.

If an individual was involved in a crash with an inattentive driver, they may be entitled to recover medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial costs associated with the accident. However, distracted driving cases can be nuanced and require a greater amount of detail to prove. A seasoned attorney with experience handling distracted driving cases can help make sure that an accident victim recovers all to which they are entitled.

Source: California Vehicle Code, Div. 11, Chapter 12, Art. 1, ยง 23123.5, accessed Jan. 22, 2018.

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