Recently the Pennsylvania State Legislature passed a law to stop drivers from texting while driving. The legislature believes that texting leads to distracted driving and therefore causes accidents. Many states have passed the same sort of statutes.
3316. Prohibiting text-based communications
(a) Prohibition. –No driver shall operate a motor vehicle on a highway or traffic-way in this commonwealth while using an interactive wireless communications device to send, read or write a text-based communication while the vehicle is in motion. A person does not send, read or write a text-based communication when the person reads, selects or enters a telephone number or name in an interactive wireless communications device for the purpose of activating or deactivating a voice communication or a telephone call.
Comment: Basically, while driving you cannot use a cell phone, i-pad, etc. to send, read, or write a text. If someone sends you a text you must pull over, if possible, and read it. Interestingly it says “while the vehicle is in motion”. This may mean that you can read a text at a red light while stopped. It is also not a violation to make a phone call by entering a name or phone number for that purpose.
(c) Seizure. –The provisions of this section shall not be construed as authorizing the seizure or forfeiture of an interactive wireless communications device, unless otherwise provided by law.
Comment: This section states that the police officer cannot take your cell phone as a result of a violation of this law. The phrase “unless otherwise provided by law” may mean that if the officer is looking at your texts to determine if there is a violation and sees texts indicating a violation of another law (drug dealing), he may then take the phone.
(d) Penalty. –A person who violates subsection (a) commits a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $ 50.
Comment: This section says the fine is $50.00 in addition to court costs.
Preemption of local ordinances. –In accordance with section 6101 (relating to applicability and uniformity of title), this section supersedes and preempts all ordinances of any municipality with regard to the use of an interactive wireless communications device by the driver of a motor vehicle.
Comment: This section tells a municipality or township that it cannot pass its own law making texting illegal and increasing the fine.
(f) Definition. –As used in this section, the term “text-based communication” means a text message, instant message, electronic mail or other written communication composed or received on an interactive wireless communications device.
Comment: It is not only illegal to send a text but also an instant message or an email. Essentially you may not send any type of message to someone while the car is in motion.
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