Utah Texting While Driving Law Changes

Current Texting Law in Utah

The law in Utah regarding texting and driving is governed by Utah Code § 41-6a-1716.  Currently, the law restricts individuals from using a cellphone to text message, email, enter any data, and manipulate an application.  The prohibitions include using a phone to read texts, email, or internet pages.  There are exceptions to these prohibitions.  Individuals can use the phone when making or receiving a telephone call, when using it for GPS and other navigation services, during a medical emergency, when reporting a safety hazard or requesting assistance relating to a safety hazard, when reporting criminal activity or requesting assistance relating to a criminal activity, when providing roadside or medical assistance, or to operate hands-free or voice operated technology, and to operate a system that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle.

Changes to the Handheld Wireless Device Law

Because there are several exceptions to the texting law, the Utah State Legislature recently amended the law.  The amended law, which goes into effect on May 13, 2014, eliminates some of the exceptions to using a cellphone while driving and enlarges the prohibitions on using a “handheld wireless device.”  A “handheld wireless device” is defined as a handheld device used for the transfer of information without the use of electrical conductors or wires and includes a wireless telephone, text messaging device, laptop, or any else similar to those items.

The amended law removes some of the exceptions to the prohibitions.  A person can no longer use a cell phone to make or receive a telephone call while driving or to use it for global positioning or navigation services.  But, the exceptions now include using the “handheld wireless device” for voice communication and viewing GPS or navigation device or application.  Essentially, the only reasons to use a cellphone while driving are in emergencies, to activate a hands-free voice activated system, and to look at it for navigation purposes.  Using it outside of the exceptions will result in a misdemeanor criminal charge.

Find Out If Your Actions Fall Under The Exceptions.

The amended law will allow police officers to more easily pull individuals over for using their cellphones while driving.  If you were pulled over for using your cellphone while driving, please call 801.900.3717, and find out if your cellphone use falls under one of the exceptions.  Provo Criminal Defense Lawyers are available to speak to you today.

Posted in Traffic Crimes

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