From tickets to incarceration, the consequences for texting and driving can costly.
A growing number of states, counties, and municipalities are enacting "distracted driving" laws that categorically ban texting while driving. Even in states without explicit laws, behind-the-wheel texting can lead to negligent and reckless driving charges, giving every driver good reason to keep their hands on the wheel and off their phones.
Here are five potential consequences for texting and driving:
- Tickets. Most states allow law enforcement to issue drivers a traffic citation solely for texting and driving, called a "primary enforcement" law. In California, the fines with fees stemming from a ticket can top $300 for the first offense. That's an awful lot of money to fork over for a "LOL :-)."
- Driver's license points. Drivers in states which use point systems to track drivers' records could incur points for texting and driving. If a driver accumulates a certain number of points, his or her driving privileges can be suspended and, in more serious or repeat offender cases, revoked.
- Insurance penalties. Insurance companies also have access to a driver's driving points record and may use behind-the-wheel texting points as a basis to raise insurance premiums. In New York, for example, drivers who get caught texting behind the wheel receive five points on their insurance.
- Criminal charges. Many states dole out hefty punishments including jail time for behind-the-wheel texting that leads to serious injury or death. Sound like fear-mongering? Guess again. A number of cases exist in which texting drivers wound up with vehicular manslaughter or homicide charges.
- Guilt. Critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog's new documentary on this topic will "shame you out of texting while driving," according to The Atlantic. The 30-minute YouTube film, embedded below, traces the victims -- and most notably, the heartbreaking remorse of texting drivers who killed people. Texting while driving can cost you your freedom, your finances, and most devastatingly of all, your conscience.
Fortunately, if you're helplessly addicted to your phone, you can fight e-fire with e-fire and download an anti-distracted driving app. While you're at it, check out our tips on how to avoid distracted driving.
It's time to put your phone down, turn your music up and enjoy the ride.