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Utah Driving Phone Law

Following are the regulations and restrictions in regards to cell phone use while driving in Utah. 48 out of the USA’s 50 states consider texting and driving illegal. The only states that are excluded from these laws are Montana and Minnesota. 

Utah law specifically states that anyone driving in Utah can and will be pulled over for handling their cell phone. These regulations limit drivers from dialing a phone number, surfing the internet, recording videos, sending email messages, using instant message services (such as Facebook), watching videos or otherwise manually entering data into a handheld wireless communication device while driving.

Utah Penal Code 41-6a-1716(2)  specifically states that manually entering information while driving is illegal. In other words, you may only use voice-activated components of your cell phone. There are a few instances in which a driver can use their phone while driving. These instances include talking on the phone, reporting medical emergencies, calling 9-1-1, reporting a safety hazard, reporting criminal activity, and viewing a GPS. 

Utah traffic laws currently allow drivers to talk on the phone. However, drivers cannot dial phone numbers while driving. To avoid driving violations, drivers can initiate their phone calls when pulled over. You can also ask a passenger to dial for you or use a voice-activated phone dialer to make the call. 

Speaking on the phone while driving reduces reaction time. Studies have found that all reactions are at least 0.98 seconds delayed when speaking on the phone. This 0.98 second may not seem like much but can significantly impact your safety on the road. If you are traveling at 30mph, your car is moving 44 feet per second. Any gap in your focus can make the difference between an accident and safety. 

Penalties for Violations

Utah law considers driving with a phone next to your ear as a secondary offense. This means that a police officer/highway patrolman must see you committing some other driving violation before they are warranted to pull you over. 

Drivers may receive tickets for the previously discussed violations of Utah law. Officers also have the right to charge such drivers with misdemeanors. Using your phone in a way other than texting while driving stands as a Class C misdemeanor. This type of misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $100. Texting while driving is a Class B misdemeanor with potential fines of $1,000 and jail time of up to 6 months. 

When any of these actions (texting and driving, recording a video while driving, etc.) cause an accident, the crime escalates from a Class B or C  misdemeanor to a 3rd or 2nd-degree felony. 3rd-degree felonies result in up to 5 years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. A 2nd-degree felony is punishable by fines up to $10,000 and/or 1-15 years of jail time. 

Phone Bans In the US

Each state has its own policies in regard to the hand-held use of cell phones. These policies include a complete cell phone ban, texting and driving ban, and novice drivers ban. 

Hand-held use of cell phones restricts drivers from using their devices while driving but they may input addresses into a GPS or initiate the phone call prior to moving the car, for example. A complete cell phone ban warrants a penalty if a driver uses a phone while driving.

 Novice driver bans restrict cell-phone usage for a novice driver and often have age-related restrictions. The texting and driving ban puts a ban on the act of texting and driving and counts the act as a misdemeanor. The class of misdemeanor for texting and driving depends upon the state.  

The following states have banned the use of phones Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts (as of Febuary 2020), Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Virgin Islands, Washington, Washington D.C., and West Virginia.

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