Distracted Driving Laws in Connecticut
The act of texting and driving in Connecticut is illegal, regardless of a driver’s age, traffic history and experience level. For instance, texting while driving is prohibited amongst all motorists in the state, including minors, adults and commercial vehicle operators. Additionally, adult drivers may only talk on the phone while operating a motor vehicle if they use a hands-free component such as Bluetooth or headphones. However, failure to comply with these distracted driving laws often results in the issuance of traffic tickets and the need to pay costly fines.
According to national distracted driving facts, more than 1,300 individuals sustain injuries each day due to driver distractedness. If drivers engage in any type of activity that involves cell phone usage, then their risk of causing a traffic collision increases by four times. To learn more about the dangers of driving distractedly, as well as the consequences of doing so, review the information below.
What is distracted driving in Connecticut?
While many texting and driving laws in Connecticut pertain to cell phone use, other types of disruptive activities may include eating or drinking while operating a motor vehicle, applying makeup, interacting with other passengers, or talking on the phone while driving. For instance, driving distractions often pertain to any type of non-driving activity that diverts the attention of the motorist away from the road ahead.
These distractions may be cognitive, visual or manual. Visual distractions include any type of activity that diverts the driver’s eyes away from the road, while manual distractions involve activities that require the use of the motorist’s hands (such as holding a cell phone). Cognitive distractions include activities that take the driver’s mind off the task of driving.
While distracted driving accidents are generally more common among younger motorists, driver distractedness is a major issue among vehicle operators of all ages. In 2016, for instance, the act of driving distractedly resulted in 3,450 traffic fatalities nationally. To prevent future cell phone-related fatalities, cell phone distraction laws are common throughout the country.
Distracted Driving Laws in Connecticut for Handheld Devices
Under the CT distracted driving law, adult motorists may not use any type of electronic mobile device while operating a motor vehicle, unless they use a hands-free component such as a Bluetooth. These laws also pertain to vehicles that are stopped at traffic lights or in traffic. As an exception to these laws against distracted driving, motorists may use a cell phone in an emergency situation if they need to contact a police or fire department, ambulatory services company, a hospital or a health clinic. Additionally, ambulance drivers, peace officers and firefighters are exempt from following these laws as long as they need to use a mobile device as part of their work.
Texting and Driving Laws in Connecticut
Engaging in any type of cell phone use while driving in CT is prohibited under state law, including the act of reading, writing or responding to text messages or emails and browsing the internet. This law pertains to all drivers regardless of age and experience level.
Connecticut Laws on Distracted Driving for Novice Drivers
To reduce instances of distracted driving accidents amongst novice motorists, drivers younger than 18 years of age are prohibited from using any type of electronic device while operating a motor vehicle on public roads. This law includes talking on the phone while driving in CT, texting and emailing. Moreover, drivers between 16 and 17 years of age cannot use a cell phone while driving a vehicle, even if they use a hands-free component to talk on the phone. However, like seasoned adult drivers, novice drivers may use a mobile device in an emergency situation.
Connecticut Distracted Driving Regulations for CDL Holders
Connecticut texting while driving laws also pertain to commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders. For instance, CDL holders cannot type, read or send text messages from an electronic device while operating a commercial vehicle. Possible distracted driving penalties for commercial drivers may include a 60-day disqualification of CDL credentials after first offenses or 120 days after any additional violations. Additionally, CDL holders who violate this law may need to pay a fine of up to $2,750.
Distracted Driver Penalties in Connecticut
Specific distracted driving consequences in Connecticut vary depending on whether motorists violate the state’s cell phone law for the first, second or third time. If motorists break the law for the first or second time, then they will need to pay a $150 or $300 fine. After the second or any subsequent violations, motorists must pay a fine totaling $500. If motorists violate local laws on texting while driving and commit another infraction at the same time, then they may need to pay penalty fees for both violations. If the texting and driving violation results in the death of another individual, then possible charges may include:
- Negligent homicide with a motor vehicle.
- Misconduct with a motor vehicle.
- Second-degree manslaughter.
If the violation results in the fatality of another individual, then penalties may include jail sentencing of between six months and 10 years and fines of between $1,000 and $10,000.
Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving in Connecticut
To stop distracted driving in CT, drivers must limit their interactions with other passengers, put their cell phones away whenever they get behind the wheel of a vehicle and concentrate on the road ahead. For instance, several ways to prevent driving distractions include the following:
- Downloading a text and call-blocking smartphone app
- Turning phones on silent or storing them in the vehicle’s trunk or glove box
- Purchasing a hands-free component such as Bluetooth if motorists are at least 18 years of age and wish to talk on the phone
- Drinking coffee at home in the morning to avoid the dangers of drinking in the vehicle
- Eating a light snack before leaving the house or office to avoid eating a snack or meal on-the-go
- Securing pets and children near the back of the vehicle to reduce any possible distractions