Prince William County Distracted Driving Lawyer

Distracted driving typically refers to driving offenses relating to the use of handheld electronic devices while a person is driving a vehicle. Distracted driving is a specific offense both under the Virginia Traffic Code, and the Prince William County Code of Ordinances (which is identical to the state code offense).

Distracted driving is always an infraction rather than a misdemeanor. However, it has a mandatory minimum escalating fine punishment depending on the number of times the driver has previously been found guilty of the infraction.

The most common type of distracted driving in Prince William County is texting while driving. There are also other related offenses under state and local distracted driving laws, such as visual display of movies and TV screens within motor vehicles, and driving with earphones.

As of March 2020, it is still legal to hold and talk on a cell phone while driving, as long as one is not driving through a properly-designated highway work zone. However, it is generally unlawful to read from or type on a cell phone while driving, subject to exceptions involving emergencies and emergency vehicles or reading caller ID information such as caller names and numbers.

If you are facing a distracted driving infraction, you might want to obtain an experienced traffic attorney. A Prince William County distracted driving lawyer could advocate for you and protect your best interests.

Elements of a Distracted Driving Charge

The elements of distracted driving in a non-highway-work-zone are that a driver must be:

  • Actually driving a vehicle (as opposed to being stopped or parked)
  • Manually entering multiple letters or text characters into a “handheld personal communications device” as a means of communicating with another person, or reading any email or text message from such device

The elements of distracted driving within a highway work zone are that a driver must be:

  • Actually driving a vehicle (as opposed to being stopped or parked)
  • Holding a “handheld personal communications device” in their hand, regardless of whether the device is being otherwise manipulated or used

There are separate distracted driving offenses for people driving commercial motor vehicles and school buses. For more information, consult with a distracted driving lawyer in Prince William County.

Distracted Driving Penalties

The standard penalties for being found guilty of distracted driving are: (1) a fine, (2) court costs, (3) three demerit points with the VA DMV, and (4) a conviction entry that lasts three years on one’s VA driving record. These penalties could be more severe for distracted driving committed by commercial drivers.

Distracted driving cannot directly lead to a license suspension, although it can implicate indirect administrative suspension from the DMV due to demerit points, or count toward the commission of multiple “serious traffic violations” for commercial drivers. 

Distracted driving for commercial drivers is not a crime but is subject to a much higher civil fine than non-commercial offenses. It also counts as one “serious traffic violation,” which triggers mandatory license suspension when two or more such violations are proven against a commercial driver within a three-year period. Therefore, it is imperative for a defendant to obtain an accomplished defense lawyer right away.

What to Expect From a Prince William County Distracted Driving Case

Distracted driving is only punishable as an infraction, and it does not carry potential jail time or direct license suspension from the court. Consequently, an accused in a distracted driving case never has to show up to court in person if they do not want to and can pre-pay the charge accordingly if they wish to concede to the offense. Unless someone is wanting or preparing to go to trial on the charge, hiring a lawyer to handle the case will ensure that the person never has to physically come to court to answer the charge. A first-offense conviction carries a mandatory minimum fine of $125. A second or subsequent offense carries a mandatory minimum fine of $250. However, any instance of conviction for distracted driving in a highway work zone is punishable by a $250 fine.

Call a Prince William County distracted driving lawyer today if you are facing charges.

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