Cell Phone Tickets and Distracted Driving Laws
Any top Connecticut traffic ticket lawyer will tell you that the police have gotten really aggressive in cellphone ticket enforcement. Distracted driving has become a top cause of auto accidnts. Cellphones have become an essential part of modern life. Everyone has one and uses them on daily basis. Regrettably there are a few bad apples who text and drive and who have gotten into some pretty serious accidents across the State of Connecticut.
Statistics show that a dsitracted driver who is using a cellphone while driving has reflexes and reaction skills just as impaired as a driver who has been drinking alcohol. For this reason, the police and State’s attorneys take distracted driving very seriously. If you get a cellphone violation on your driving record your insurance company is going to give you a significant increase in your auto insurance premium. Your best option is to consult with a Connecticut traffic ticket lawyer to determine the most cost-effective way to get the ticket dismissed or reduced.Cell Phone Tickets Get Reported to Insurance Companies
The most important thing for my clients to understand about cell phone tickets in Connecticut is that the cell phone ticket statute C.G.S.A. 14-296aa(k) states that any violation of the cell phone statute “shall appear” on your driving history record and be available to any insurance carrier. This means that it does not matter if you mail in the ticket and pay the fine or if you plead guilty at court, it will go on your driving record and your insurance company is going to raise your auto insurance rates for years to come. Also, it is important to understand that the insurance companies understand just how dangerous distracted driving is, so if you have a cellphone violation on your driving record your insurance rates are going to go up much higher than with a normal traffic violation. Studies have shown that the average premium insurance increase nationwide for a single cell phone violation is 24% per year. If you have received a cell phone violation do not mail in the ticket or pay it online because you are going to be hit with significant increases in your insurance rates. Instead contact a Connecicut traffic ticket lawyer to review your options to get the ticket dismissed or thrown out.There are Many Defenses Available to Fight Cell Phone Tickets
All across the State of Connecticut there are cell phone sting operations where police officers are targeting people who are using cellphones while driving. Many of our clients have received cellphone tickets for just “holding” a phone in their hand without texting or making a call. Sadly, in these situations the officers often give out tickets without even asking the motorist what they were doing with the phone. It is not illegal to use a cellphone to:
- Use a handsfree device to make a call while driving (Bluetooth; speakerphone; wired headset; etc.)
- Hold your cell phone to activate or deactivate the call function for a handsfree call (provided that the phone is not near your ear)
- Use your phone to contact 911 during an emergency
If you are under the age of 18 or a bus driver you can not use your cell phone for any purpose while you are driving even if it is through a handsfree device, unless it is for an emergency call.
One way that we defend cellphone tickets is by proving that our clients were not using the cellphone to actually text or make a phone call while driving. Just holding a phone in your hand while driving is NOT ILLEGAL in Connecticut.
Back in 2016 the Connecticut Appellate Court issued a important decision in the field of cell phone ticket defense. The official citation for the case is State vs. Dunbar, 165 Conn. App. 93 (2016). The Appellate Court decided to toss out Mr. Dunbar’s cell phone ticket conviction due to lack of evidence at the trial court level that Mr. Dunbar was actually “engaged in a call.” The Court decided that in Connecticut a State’s attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a motorist was actually engaged in a call, which requires more than just that the phone was in the driver’s hand. In pertinent part, Connecticut General Statute 14-296aa states that “An operator of a motor vehicle who holds a hand-held mobile telephone to, or in the immediate proximity of, his or her ear while operating a motor vehicle is presumed to be engaging in a call within the meaning of this section. The presumption established by this subdivision is rebuttable by evidence tending to show that the operator was not engaged in a call.” In Mr. Dunbar’s case, he was able to establish through his testimony that he was not making a call and that the phone was merely in his hand. The Court ruled that the phone simply being in his hand (in his case, deactivating an incoming phone call) was not engaging in a call, and thus was not a violation of that statute.
The Dunbar case gave Connecticut traffic ticket lawyers a lot of ammunition to defend cell phone ticket cases. Before you mail in a cell phone ticket or pay the fine online you should call us for a free consultation to go over the facts of your individual case so we can determine the best option to get your cellphone ticket dismissed or reduced to a nonmoving violation. You don’t want a cellphone violation on your driving history because auto insurance companies take these really seriously and they will hit you hard when it comes time to renew your auto insurance premiums.Use of Cell Phones by Drivers Under 18
The penalties and consequences for our teens using cell phones are much more severe. It is important to understand that teens from 16 to 17 years of age can’t touch a cellphone while driving or use Bluetooth or hand’s free devices to make calls except to make emergency calls. Most importantly any of these teens from 16 – 17 years of age who get a cellphone violation will get their drivers license suspended for 30 days in addition to the fine. As parents we already know how high our insurance premiums go when we add a 16 – 17 year old driver to our auto insurance policies. If your teen gets a violation for a cell phone ticket and then a suspension on their driving history your auto insurance rates are going to increase dramatically higher. To the insurance company a teen using a cell phone with a suspension on their driving record is among the most high-risk drivers on the road. Due to the enhanced penalties a 16-17 year old teen will face from a cellphone ticket violation you should always fight the ticket. If your teen has received a cellphone ticket, you should connect a Connecticut traffic ticket lawyer for a free consultation to review your options to fight the ticket.Out of State Driver’s Should also Fight Their Connecticut Cellphone tickets
Many out of state drivers think that they can simply pay their Connecticut cell phone tickets online and forget about it. This is not accurate due to the Drivers License Compact, all cell phone ticket violations are reported to all 48 states by the Connecticut DMV and the violation is very likely to wind up on your driving record and result in increased insurance premiums in your home state. If you are an out of state motorist who received a cellphone ticket in Connecticut, we can defend the ticket for you here in Connecticut and you will never have to come to Court. We can appear in Court on your behalf and take care of the entire process for you. Call our office today for a free consultation.Is It Worth it to Hire a Connecticut Cellphone Ticket Lawyer to Fight my Ticket?
The short answer is yes. We recommend that you never plead “no contest” and mail in a cell phone ticket or pay the fine on line. You should always plead “not guilty” and fight your ticket in Court. You will fare a lot better with the expert guidance of an experienced Connecticut traffic ticket lawyer to defend you. The best course of action is to call us today for a free, no obligation, case consultation. We will go over all the facts of your cell phone ticket case and give you our recommendations for the best way to defend the case and quote you a low flat rate fee for our services. In most cases we can appear in court on your behalf and you will never have to take a day off of work to attend court.Conclusion
The best approach to handling a cellphone ticket is to keep your driving record clean, if possible, by calling a Connecticut traffic ticket lawyer to fight the ticket. With over 28 years of experience in fighting cell phone tickets, Attorney Allan F. Friedman will leave no stone unturned to defend your rights and obtain the best result possible. Our Stamford traffic ticket law firm offers a free no obligation case evaluation so that we can review your legal rights and our defense strategy. To schedule your free consultation contact Allan F. Friedman 24/7 at (203) 357-5555.