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West Virginia Cell Phone Laws

Posted in Car accident,Distracted driving on July 9, 2019

Cell phones evolved from being convenient methods of communication to holding our whole lives in a single device. Schedules, pictures, social media, internet, schoolwork – all are accessible through what we now call smartphones.

With all of the features that smartphones tote, it isn’t hard to see that they could pose a huge distraction. This issue is extremely relevant when driving. Cell phone usage is the biggest cause of distracted driving accidents, making these tiny devices deadly if we cannot use them responsibly.

West Virginia Cell Phone Laws

To prevent cell phones from becoming a fatal issue for the state, West Virginia has enacted several cell phone laws. Though many drivers, especially those that are younger, might claim that these new rules are unjust, they have the potential to save hundreds of lives.

What Counts as Using Your Phone?

Because cell phones provide a wide range of functions, West Virginia established a few key phone-related actions that count as using your phone, even if you aren’t texting and driving. Drivers under 18 must abide by a complete ban of cell phone activities on top of the law that all drivers must obey. The cell-phone ban includes:

  • Looking at pictures or other forms of data (ex. Social media pages, apps, schoolwork)
  • Creating or typing any form of data (ex. Taking notes, writing your grocery list)
  • Browsing internet or other related pages
  • Sending or composing emails
  • Making a phone call

This list essentially rules out any form of cell phone usage by drivers that could take their attention away from the road. Young drivers that are easily distracted  must put everything on hold while operating their car. Moreover, drivers under 18 cannot use wireless devices to surpass any of these bans.

General Laws

Drivers over 18 are not limited to the comprehensive ban that young drivers must adhere to. However, they must still respect their own rules still meant to maintain public and driver safety:

  • Drivers cannot use handheld cellphones – they must use wireless/hands-free options when taking calls.
  • Car operators cannot text and drive.
  • Drivers that possess an intermediate license cannot use a wireless communication device, no matter their age.

Rules meant for older individuals are not nearly as strict as those created your drivers under 18. In a nutshell, drivers must limit their phone usage to hands-free methods to keep eyes focused on the road and hands maintaining control of the vehicle.

Exceptions

Because gray areas exist, West Virginia law sought to legally excuse drivers that use their cell phones under several specific contexts:

  • Individuals utilizing a vehicle to carry out their job – paramedics, police officers, emergency services, firefighters – are exempt from these laws.
  • Drivers reporting an accident, road hazard, fire, or other emergency can use their phones to contact the appropriate authority.
  • Drivers that are activating or deactivating their phone’s hands-free feature are excused.

Fines for Illegal Cell Phone Use

West Virginia treats cell phone use as a traffic violation – those caught using their phones while driving are subject to a fine. The cost of each fine escalates with each offense, eventually resulting in points being added to the driver’s driving record.

  • First offense $100
  • Second Offense $200
  • Third offense $300 and 3 points added to the driver’s record

All additional offenses result in increasingly expensive fines and an additional 3 points being added to the driver’s record for each infraction.

With the safety of the driver and public at stake, it isn’t a surprise that West Virginia has established clear-cut laws to reduce cell phone-related accidents. Remember that all drivers are responsible for their actions on the road and maintain proper safety practices while operating your vehicle in West Virginia. If you were a victim in a distracted driving accident, our car accident lawyers in West Virginia can help. We offer free consultations so you can explore your legal options. Contact us today.