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3 Ways Texting and Driving Can Land You in Jail

By Betty Wang, JD | Last updated on

Texting and driving doesn't just lead to possible accidents, but it could also land you in jail.

The dangers of texting and driving may not be obvious to many. Some do it at a red light, or at a stop sign, thinking it's safe. But it's not safe, and should never be done while one is operating a moving vehicle.

Not only is texting and driving incredibly dangerous, but those few seconds in which you take your eyes are off the road can also land you in jail. Here are three ways this can potentially happen:

  1. Explicit laws in certain states. Federal laws ban texting while driving for most federal workers and for commercial truck drivers while on the job. For other drivers, most states have some variation of a law that bans texting (or even talking on a hands-free cellphone) while driving, under a category called distracted driving. In addition, certain states' laws on texting while driving will even specify jail time. The length of incarceration depends on the circumstances, but if your texting causes someone else's injury, then the likelihood of serving time behind bars is high.
  2. Negligence. Even if you're in a state without explicit anti-texting laws, texting while driving can have dire consequences that will land you in jail. For example, if your behind-the-wheel texting leads to someone's death, then the act of texting while driving can fulfill the negligence element of a vehicular manslaughter or homicide charge. Even if it was just a quick two-second glance at your phone, if it cost somebody else his life, then you're probably going to jail for it.
  3. Reckless driving. Even if your texting-while-driving didn't result in something as severe as a fatality, you could still wind up behind bars. Many states, like California, have laws that specify jail time (for a few days up to even a few months) for those convicted of reckless driving. Reckless driving commonly includes acts like driving while under the influence or, yes, texting while driving.

So with these examples in mind, always keep your eyes on the road. Put your phone away, and remember that the risk is just not worth the cost of checking a text message that can easily wait.

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