Texting While Driving Penalties in Minnesota
As technology advances, we have become more and more dependent on our phones and accessing important (and unimportant) information at all times. This has led to some poor behaviors developing by many drivers, wherein they are using their phones while driving. This is commonly referred to as texting while driving. Texting while driving is becoming a leading cause of accidents, including fatal ones, and some believe is just as dangerous as driving while impaired. Due to this, texting while driving penalties have intensified.
As we previously detailed, the texting while driving law essentially demands hands-free usage of any electronic devices while driving. Succinctly, holding the phone is a violation of the law. Even to pull up the app to get directions – everything must be done hands-free. If you violate the texting while driving law, there are both criminal penalties and collateral consequences one must consider.
Criminal Penalties for Texting While Driving
As of now (and we wouldn’t be surprised if this changes down the road), texting while driving tickets are considered payable offenses, which is akin to a speeding ticket. Payable offenses are simple traffic citations that are punishable solely by a fine and can be paid without having to go to court. As such, these are petty misdemeanor offenses, which are not technically crimes under Minnesota law.
The fine for a first-time ticket is $50, plus statutory surcharges that raise the total cost to approximately $125. A second fine sees the fine amount increase to $275, plus the surcharge.
As accidents and fatalities relating to texting while driving add up, do not be surprised to see more prosecutors get aggressive when charging these out. It would not be surprising to deem the driver distracted while on their phone and to charge it as a failing to drive with due care, careless driving, and/or reckless driving. Those are more serious offenses and can carry real criminal consequences, such as a criminal record, a higher fine, and possibly even jail time.
Collateral Consequences for Texting While Driving
The most immediate collateral consequence for texting and driving will be a hit to your insurance premiums. You can expect insurance companies to consider these serious traffic tickets and your premium will reflect that. Additionally, if the driver has a lengthier traffic record, a possible loss of license comes into play.
If you receive a texting while driving ticket, it is imperative to get a strong Minnesota traffic ticket attorney that knows how to contest these cases, what defenses to possibly raise, and how to get creative in negotiating so as to best guide you through the case. Do not hesitate to contact us immediately to get started fighting for you.