Many drivers use their phones while driving. Whether it’s texting, making a call, or even following directions to a destination, all of these actions divert attention from the road.
This kind of distracted driving can lead to accidents; in fact, distracted drivers are involved in about 43 crashes every day in Colorado. Over the last few years, Colorado state lawmakers have introduced bills to make certain cellphone related actions that lead to distracted driving illegal.
If you or a loved one is involved in a car accident that occurred because of distracted driving, understanding Colorado’s texting and driving laws are essential when filing a claim. The experienced car accident attorney at Norton Frickey P.C. can also help you with your case.
Driving While Texting
In Colorado, it’s illegal for all motorists, adults and minors alike, to use a cellphone for text messaging, as well as “manual data entry and transmission.” This might include browsing the internet, updating a social media profile, entering a calendar event, checking a notification, and so on.
Police can cite motorists for texting while driving only if they can prove the driver was doing it in a “careless and imprudent manner,” which can be challenging.
In 2017, the fines for texting and driving increased from $50 to $300 for an initial violation. Subsequent violations garner a $1,000 fine or up to one-year imprisonment, or both for adult drivers in Colorado.
Driving While Talking on a Phone
While texting may be outlawed, adult drivers in Colorado are still allowed to make voice calls on their phone but that may change in the future, however.
A bill that aimed to require hands-free devices behind the wheel was introduced in January 2018 and failed a Senate committee. It was reintroduced in 2019 but failed in a House committee.
As of February 2020, the bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate. If passed, it would eliminate the driver’s ability to hold a phone while driving. However, hands-free functions could continue, like using driving directions, playing music, or talking on the phone. This proposed Colorado law is similar to others that already exist in 16 states.
Minor Drivers Under 18 Years of Age
For motorists under the age of 18, Colorado law prohibits any use of a cell phone while driving. That includes voice calls, text messaging, or any other forms of manual data entry and transmission.
If violated, a minor driver is fined $50 for the first offense and $100 for subsequent offenses. Each offense is worth one point against their license, as well.
Exceptions to Colorado Texting and Driving Laws
There are exceptions to Colorado’s texting and driving laws. Drivers of any age may use their phone to call, text, or receive a text message either during an emergency or to contact a public safety entity.
Colorado legislature defines an emergency as “any situation in which the following may occur”:
- A driver has reason to fear for their life or safety or believes that a criminal act may occur against themselves or another person
- A driver is reporting a dangerous event such as a fire, serious traffic accident, serious road hazard, medical emergency, or hazardous materials emergency
- A driver is reporting a motorist who is driving in a reckless, careless, or unsafe manner
In these emergency situations, any driver (including minors under 18 years old) may use their phone without penalty.
Talk to a Car Accident Attorney in Colorado Springs
According to a 2018 report by Zendrive, a software company that monitors driving, 86 percent of drivers used their phones at least once behind the wheel. Those who use their phones spend an average of three minutes and 40 seconds on a device per hour. Because a car accident can happen in a mere matter of seconds, Zendrive’s data is troubling.
In a minor accident, a distracted driver may be fined and given demerit points towards their license. However, the consequences can be much worse if a person is injured or killed in a distracted driving incident: distracted drivers may also face a reckless driving conviction or vehicular homicide charge.
If you or someone you care about is involved in a crash due to distracted driving in the Colorado Springs area, the car accident lawyer at Norton Frickey P.C. can help. Our accident attorney can help gather evidence for your claim, guide you through the process, and obtain the compensation you or your loved one deserves.
Call Norton Frickey P.C. at (719) 634-6450 to schedule a free consultation. You can also fill out a contact form online or stay up to date by liking and following the Norton Frickey P.C. Facebook page.