Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Indiana? | Advice from the Experts
According to the 2020 report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), texting while driving contributed to 13% of all fatal distracted driving accidents in the United States.
Whether it is checking social media and sending messages or texting friends or family members, mobile phone communication has become an integral part of people's lives.
Although the human race is more connected than ever before, technology is having serious repercussions as the number of distracted driving accidents continues to rise in the country.
Those who are suffering from injuries in an accident due to a distracted driver should reach out to an auto accident attorney Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys to discuss their case. Their legal team has deep knowledge of Indiana law and expertise in handling personal injury cases. They can guide injured victims on their rights and legal options.
Is Texting and Driving Illegal in Indiana?
Under Indiana Code 9-21-8-59, the state's driving law prohibits drivers from typing and transmitting text messages while operating a vehicle. Even if the driver is at a traffic stop light, it is illegal to text or surf the internet.
The distracted driving law in Indiana allows law enforcement officers to pull over drivers who are using their smartphones and issue them citations. This could be costly and have an adverse impact on the driver's driving record. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also advise on questions like, "Is it illegal to sleep in your car in Indiana?"
A New Hands-free Law in Indiana Aims to Improve Road Safety
In 2020, the state passed a new hands-free law that makes it illegal for drivers to hold their mobile phones while operating a vehicle. It aims to reduce distracted driving-related crashes and improve road safety in Indiana.
Although the state had a law prohibiting texting while driving, it was nearly impossible for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to enforce it since drivers exploited too many loopholes.
The new Indiana law prohibits drivers from using any type of telecommunication device for communication purposes while behind the wheel unless it has hands-free technology or a voice-operated option.
What this means is that drivers cannot have their phones in their hands while operating their vehicles. However, they may be able to use it if it has a hands-free or voice-control feature.
Under the new Indiana hands-free law, drivers can also use their cell phones for navigation purposes as long as it is in hands-free mode. They can also talk while using Bluetooth connectivity or a headset.
It is important to note that it is still illegal for young drivers under the age of 21 to use their cell phones while driving, even if it is in hands-free mode. This is because the law recognizes this group of individuals as inexperienced with a higher statistical probability of getting into a car accident.
What Are the Consequences of Violating the Hands-free Law in Indiana?
Any driver who fails to follow the new hands-free law may be guilty of a class C infraction leading to fines of up to $500. If caught using cell phones in their hands while behind the wheel, it can add four points to the driver's driving record.
Too many points within a certain period of time can lead to license suspension. However, drivers can remove these by completing the driver safety program.
Texting or using a mobile phone while driving can have serious legal consequences, especially if it results in a fatal accident. If the driver violated the hands-free law and crashed their vehicle, causing the death of another road user, they might be facing a reckless homicide charge for vehicular manslaughter.
What Are the Exceptions Under the Hands-free Law in Indiana?
The only exception under the new hands-free law in Indiana is an emergency situation.
If a driver is facing an emergency, they may be able to use their phone while driving to call 911 for help. Other than that, there is no excuse for drivers to hold their cell phones while behind the wheel.
Can Drivers in Indiana Use Their Cell Phones If They Don't Have a Hands-free Option?
If a driver does not have Bluetooth or other hands-free technology that allows them to use their phone without holding it in their hands, they do not get a free pass.
In such situations, the individual must safely park their vehicle on the roadside before they can use a telecommunication device.
Can a Police Officer Pull a Driver Over If They Haven't Committed Other Traffic Infractions?
Since the "primary" laws in Indiana prevent young drivers from using their cell phones and prohibit all drivers from holding telecommunication devices in their hands, law enforcement officers can pull them over even if they haven't committed other traffic infractions. can also answer questions such as, "Is it illegal to drive with interior lights on in Indiana?"
It's best for the drivers to let that text wait until they reach their next destination. Texting and driving can lead to deadly accidents, but these are easily preventable if everyone follows the hands-free laws in Indiana.
Can Injured Victims Recover Compensation After Distracted Driving Accidents?
Texting and driving is a form of distracted driving, and under the driving laws in Indiana, it is illegal.
If another road user (driver, rider, or pedestrian) suffers injuries in an accident due to a negligent driver who fails to follow the hands-free law, the injured victim may be able to pursue a personal injury claim to recover compensatory damages.
These may include the following economic and non-economic damages:
Current and future medical expenses (hospital bills, surgery costs, prescription medication, therapy and rehabilitation fees, and out-of-pocket expenses).
Current lost wages and loss of future earning capacity.
Pain and suffering.
Disability and disfigurement.
Mental anguish and emotional distress.
Loss of quality of life.
Any individual who loses their life in a car accident due to another's negligence in Indiana can also lead to liability. In such cases, loved ones can pursue civil action against the negligent party's insurance company to recover wrongful death damages.
Injured Victims in Indianapolis Should Contact Experienced Car Accident Attorneys for Legal Representation
With more than two million motor vehicles registered in the state, driving in Indiana can be stressful, which is why drivers need to avoid holding mobile devices in their hands when operating their cars. Failure to adhere to the driving laws can result in liability for which injured victims can pursue compensatory damages.
Those who have suffered injuries in a car accident in Indianapolis, Indiana, due to another's negligence should call to schedule a free consultation with Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, as they may be able to recover compensation.