Friday, August 17, 2012

Boise Criminal Defense Attorneys - (208) 472-2383 Texting While Driving

As of July 1, 2012 it is illegal to text and drive in Idaho.  This is a stand alone law meaning that the police can pull you over if they have reasonable suspicion that you are texting while driving.  This is unlike the seat belt law in Idaho.  In that situation, the police cannot stop you because you aren't wearing a seat belt, rather, if you are stopped for something else and you aren't wearing a seat belt, they can cite you for failure to wear a safety restraint.

This new law is sending a flood of calls to many Boise Criminal Attorneys offices.  What does it mean and what are the ramifications of it?  Firstly, driving while texting is an infraction.  Basically, this means that you will get a ticket if you are operating a motor vehicle and you are reading or writing a text message.  It, however, doesn't apply if you are using a speech activated device to create or read a text.  To me, as a Boise Criminal Lawyer, this raises a curious question of proof.  I personally have a hands free device in my car and with my phone I can speak and the phone will create the text or read me the text.  This doesn't mean, however, that I regularly text this way.  In fact, I usually use the old fashion method of clumsy thumbs.  If a police officer doesn't see me texting, but sees me looking into my lap while I am driving, he or she may pull me over for texting while driving.  Is me looking into my lap good enough evidence to prove I was texting while driving?  What if the police officer looks at my phone and sees a text sent at 1:02 pm, the exact time he or she pulled me over?  Can I tell the officer I sent that text with my hands free device?  Will he or she believe me?  In my mind, as a Boise Criminal Attorney, the problem with the law as it is is that it doesn't require an underlying infraction to be pulled over for.  If it did and I was looking in my lap, then perhaps the police officer could pull me over for inattentive driving. 

I think, without a doubt, it is a very good thing to have a law to keep people from texting and driving.  It is dangerous and can lead to grave harm.  However, as a Boise Criminal Attorney, I feel that the law is ambiguous and poorly written.  It leaves open too many possibilities of bad evidence, loopholes and the like.

In addition, the law is not a moving violation.  This means that if you are cited for texting while driving, a crime in Idaho, your insurance rates won't be effected by it.  Part of the teeth behind the laws in criminal law is to dissuade people from committing crimes.  If you sell marijuana or other drugs, you will go to jail.  If you drink and drive you will get a DUI.  If the legislature really wants to curb texting and driving, shouldn't it carry the threat of increasing your insurance?  If you speed and get a ticket, you can be sure your rates will increase.

This is a new law and there are many unknowns yet to be discovered.  Next blog I will talk about whether or not you need a search warrant to look at the texts or any other information on your smart phone.

If you have been charged with a crime and you need an experienced Boise Criminal Lawyer, give us a call and see what we can do, (208) 472-2383.  We always offer a free consultation.  Call us, you will be glad you did.


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