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Shut Up and Drive: Distracted Driving in West Virginia

We have all seen it.  The driver in front of us is not paying attention to the road.  The driver is looking down at his or her cell phone.  They swerve a little.  We think to ourselves, “get off your cell phone and drive!”  These every day occurrences can have tragic outcomes.  The National Highway Safety Administration reports that in 2015, distracted driving claimed 3,477 lives.

West Virginia law provides that a person may not “drive or operate a motor vehicle on a public street” while texting or “using a cell phone or other electronic communications device, unless the use is accomplished by hands-free equipment.”

“Using a cell phone or other electronic communications device” means holding in a person’s hand or hands an electronic communications device while:

(A)  Viewing or transmitting images or data;

(B)  Playing games;

(C)  Composing, sending, reading, viewing, accessing, browsing, transmitting, saving or retrieving e-mail, text messages or other electronic data; or

(D) Engaging in a call.

W.Va. Code § 17C-14-15(b)(8).

Generally, for regularly licensed drivers who are not operating a commercial vehicle or a school bus, the penalties are: a $100 fine for the first offense; a $200 fine for the second offense; and a $300 fine for a third or subsequent offense.

Fines alone don’t keep us safe.  It is up to all of us to talk with our friends and family about cell phone use while driving.  A one time occurrence can have dire consequences.  Consider installing a cell phone blocking app that prevents cell phone use while driving or, for Apple folks, utilizing the “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature.

If you or your loved one has been injured as a result of a distracted driver, call Barney Law PLLC today at 304-932-8775.