Text messages are a convenient way to contact anyone with a mobile device. But holding a mobile device to type a message can be dangerous for drivers. Taking your eyes off the road, even for a few seconds, to glance at your phone is enough to lead to a collision accident.
To address this driver risk, Pennsylvania passed an anti-texting law that went into effect in 2012. What are the provisions of this law, and what can you expect if you violate it?
The anti-texting law
Pennsylvania’s anti-texting law prohibits any driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read or compose a text-based message while driving. The law also defines an IWCD as any of the following devices:
- Wireless phones
- Personal digital assistants
- Portable or mobile computers
- Any similar devices that can send and receive messages, write and receive emails, or browse the internet
Notably, the law doesn’t ban using GPS devices, devices built or integrated into vehicles (such as car radios), or communications devices affixed to mass transit vehicles or buses.
If you violate the anti-texting law, it’s considered a summary offense. Summary offenses may not be as serious as most criminal offenses, but they can show up on your record if anyone does a background check on you. Insurance companies can also view this record, and your insurance rates could increase as a result. The violation doesn’t carry any license points.
In addition to having a summary offense on record, you’ll have to pay a $50 fine if you’re convicted of violating the law. This may not sound like much, but this $50 fine doesn’t include court costs, surcharges, and other fees. These can all quickly add up, and you might end up paying more than $100.
Violating Pennsylvania’s anti-texting law may not be as severe as other criminal offenses, but the act can still leave you with a record that can impact your insurance rates. If an officer tickets you for texting and driving, you can request a hearing to challenge the charge. Consider consulting a legal professional beforehand to learn your options and understand if bringing your case to a hearing is worthwhile.