The Legal Consequences of Texting While Driving in Massachusetts

Texting While Driving

May 27, 2023 by Anthony Riccio

From 2015 to 2019, distracted driving played a significant role in fatal crashes both in Massachusetts and nationwide. Out of 169,009 fatal crashes across all fifty states, 14,982 involved a distracted driver. In Massachusetts, 204 out of 1,675 fatal crashes, or 12%, involved distraction.

Massachusetts ranked 27th out of 50 states for fatal crashes involving a distracted driver. By roadway type, over half of these fatal accidents occurred along principal arterial or minor arterial roads, areas with high traffic volumes and higher posted speed limits. In fact, nearly 80% of distracted driver-involved fatal crashes took place on interstates and arterials with speed limits of 35 mph or higher.

Lastly, speeding was a contributing factor in 29% (59 out of 204) of all distracted driving fatal crashes during this period. This data underscores the importance of focusing solely on driving when behind the wheel, especially on arterial roads and interstates.

The Massachusetts Hands-Free Law is in place to encourage responsible driving behavior. It strictly prohibits the use of any mobile device for texting or emailing while operating a vehicle. This is more than a simple rule, it’s a stern law. Anyone found guilty of this offense faces stiff penalties. It’s essential to understand that it’s not just about texting, even reading an email or a text message while you’re at the wheel is considered a violation. The law aims to promote focus on driving and limit distractions. By ensuring that drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, the Hands-Free Law aims to make the streets of Massachusetts safer for everyone.

Texting While Driving: The True Cost Beyond Fines and Penalties

While the immediate consequences of distracted driving, such as fines or penalties, might appear significant, there are deeper costs that aren’t instantly recognizable. These encompass long-term effects like accumulating points on one’s driving record and increased insurance premiums. A violation could also lead to a driver’s license suspension. However, the genuine cost extends beyond monetary penalties. It’s the threat to safety, both of the driver and others sharing the road. Accidents induced by distracted driving can culminate in severe injuries or even loss of life. Ultimately, the true cost of distracted driving surpasses any fine or penalty—it’s the potential for irreplaceable loss and enduring regret.

From Tickets to Jail Time: The Spectrum of Legal Punishments for Texting While Driving

The legal consequences of distracted driving in Massachusetts range from minor to severe, based on the circumstances and the driver’s history. First-time offenders often face a fine. But if a driver continues to break the law, they risk more serious penalties, including higher fines, suspension of their driver’s license, or even jail time. For instance, if someone causes an accident due to distracted driving, the charges could escalate to reckless driving or even vehicular homicide, depending on the severity of the accident. 

  • The first violation of the Hands-Free law incurs a $100 fine 
  • The second offense incurs a $250 fine and a required distracted driving education course 
  • The third and subsequent offenses incur a $500 fine, a required distracted driving education course, and additional insurance costs

These consequences serve as a stark reminder that distracted driving is a serious offense that the Massachusetts law takes very seriously.

The Hidden Consequences: How Texting While  Driving Affects Your Insurance Rates

Distracted driving isn’t merely a hazardous practice; it can also lead to severe financial implications. An often-overlooked consequence is the surge in car insurance rates. When an individual is convicted of distracted driving in Massachusetts, insurers interpret it as a significant traffic violation, akin to reckless driving. Consequently, they may escalate the insurance premiums, as the risk related to insuring that person has now increased. This could mean an additional expenditure of hundreds, or potentially even thousands, of dollars over the years. Bear in mind, while the cost of a text message is minimal, the financial fallout of being distracted behind the wheel is considerably more substantial.

Is Texting While Driving a Criminal Offense in Massachusetts? Dispelling the Myths

In Massachusetts, it’s a common misconception that distracted driving is merely a traffic violation. But under the Hands-Free Driving Law, it is in fact a civil motor vehicle infraction. This means that while there may not face criminal charges for a first offense, the penalties can be steep, including fines and potential loss of license. Repeat offenses or accidents caused by distracted driving can lead to more serious charges, including criminal ones, depending on the severity of the accident. Therefore, it’s crucial for drivers to understand the gravity of this issue and its potential legal repercussions, not just to protect themselves but also others on the road.

Collateral Damage: How Distracted Driving Charges Impact Employment Opportunities

The implications of distracted driving extend beyond fines, license suspensions, and elevated insurance rates. It can also have an unexpected impact on an individual’s professional life. Certain occupations, particularly those that involve driving, such as delivery drivers, commercial truck drivers, or ride-share operators, necessitate a clean driving record. If someone has an infraction for distracted driving, it can influence their employment opportunities in these fields. Furthermore, having a suspended license may limit their ability to commute, thereby impacting job options. It’s not merely their safety at risk when someone texts and drives; it could very well affect their livelihood too.

Prevention and Safety: The Key to Avoid Legal Consequences of Texting While Driving

Distracted Driving Law

When it comes to distracted driving, prevention is consistently superior to dealing with the aftermath. To circumvent the legal consequences, the most efficacious strategy is not to text while driving at all. Straightforward safety measures can incorporate turning off notifications while driving or employing hands-free technology if staying connected is indispensable. If a text or call is truly pressing, an individual should pull over safely before using their phone. In addition, practicing defensive driving and advocating others to do the same is beneficial. Maintaining awareness of one’s surroundings and ensuring full attention is on the road is critical. It’s crucial to remember that no message is worth jeopardizing a life, either one’s own or others’. Safety must always be the primary concern.

Call 617-404-8878 or contact an accident injury attorney as soon as possible to schedule a free consultation.