Samuel Goldberg has been a Massachusetts criminal defense attorney for 20 years. Prior to that, he was a New York state prosecutor. He has published various articles regarding the practice of criminal law and frequently provides legal analysis on radio and television, appearing on outlets such as the Fox News Channel, Court TV, MSNBC and The BBC Network. To speak to Sam about a criminal matter call (617) 492 3000.

Operating Under the Influence of Technology?

It’s common knowledge that hand-held electronics, such as smart phones, pose a serious distraction when we’re behind the wheel. But is that distraction as dangerous as intoxication? Can technology actually affect our sobriety? A new Washington law aims to treat cell phone use while driving in much the same way as drunk driving. The law would ban the use of all electronic devices when driving, even when stopped at a red light.

Electronic Driving While Impaired

According to Washington Governor Jay Inslee, the bill is called “electronic driving while impaired,” and the new offense would be called a DUI-E. “When you are driving with a cell phone,” said Inslee, “you are a more dangerous driver than if you are driving drunk with a .08 blood alcohol level.” And these aren’t just empty words; research backs up Inslee’s statements.

According to reports, there was a 32 percent increase in distracted driving-related fatalities between 2014 and 2015. Inslee is comparing the new bill to the “click it, or ticket” seatbelt campaign, which has had an immensely positive impact in Washington state; studies show that approximately 95 percent of Washingtonians buckle up. A Boston car accident attorney can help you determine how to proceed if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

The proposed law bans any use of hand-held devices while driving. This includes, but is not limited to, sending and reading texts, posting on social media, taking pictures or video, and talking on the phone. Even a quick phone check while stopped at a red light or in gridlocked traffic is prohibited. If law enforcement sees a driver using a hand-held device or watching a video on a device mounted on the dashboard, they are permitted to stop that driver.

No Driver Left Behind

Education first. The “electronic driving while impaired” bill aims to prevent serious injuries and deaths related to distracted driving, but Washington understands that it will take some getting used to. As such, in the first six months, there will be a grace period during which no tickets will be given. Instead, education cards will be handed out in their place. Once this grace period is over, however, tickets in the amount of $136 will be handed out for first DUI-E offenses. That ticket cost will increase for second and subsequent offenses. A MA car accident lawyer can help you recover damages if you’ve been injured by a distracted driver.

The new law may pertain to Washington, not Massachusetts, but it’s indicative of a sweeping trend to ban all hand-held technology while driving. In MA, drivers are not prohibited from using hand-held devices while driving, however, texting while driving is banned. And just like the Washington bill, MA bans texting even when stopped in traffic or at a red light. If you are stopped for texting while driving in MA, you will likely receive one of the following fines:

  • $100 for first offense 1st offense
  • $250 for second offense
  • $500 for third and subsequent offenses

If texting or use of technology while driving contributes to an accident in which someone is seriously injured or killed, criminal charges may follow. In 2012, a MA teen received a two-year jail sentence and was convicted of “motor vehicle homicide by texting” after he struck and killed a father of three when his car crossed a divider.

Altman & Altman, LLP – Boston’s Top Auto Accident Law Firm

If you have been injured due to another’s negligence, the skilled legal team at Altman & Altman, LLP can help. We have been protecting the rights of accident and injury victims for more than 50 years. If a distracted driver has harmed you or a loved one, you may be eligible to receive compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages. Don’t go through this difficult time alone. Contact Altman & Altman, LLP today for a free and confidential consultation about your case.

 

 

 

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