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Back September 11, 2019

Texting and Driving in North Carolina and Potential Liability


As one may expect, texting and driving is illegal in North Carolina. However, the potential consequences for texting and driving may vary depending on the myriad of hypothetical legal scenarios that can arise as a result of texting and driving. In the interest of your safety and well being, Biazzo & Panchenko Law, PLLC strongly encourages you to not text and drive at any time.

Statutory Prohibition of Texting and Driving

Pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 20-137.4A, it is unlawful for any person to operate a vehicle on any public street, highway or public vehicular area while using a cellular phone to: (1) Manually enter multiple letters or text in the device as a means of communicating with another person; or (2) Read any e-mail or text message transmitted to the device or stored in the device. However, this law does not prohibit drivers from searching for names, numbers and caller identification information stored in their phones, nor does the law prohibit drivers from using “voice operated technology” on their phones. If you receive a citation for violating this statute you will be cited with an infraction and receive a fine of $100 plus court costs. However, this is not a criminal charge and the statute prohibits the application of driver’s license points or any insurance surcharges for violating it. But texting and driving may become a larger issue if you find yourself in an automobile accident as a result of texting and driving.

Potential Civil Liability

Generally, when a driver is at fault for causing an auto collision, they may be found civilly liable for negligence. Negligence is generally defined as when a person acts in a careless (or “negligent”) manner, which results in someone else incurring damages such as being physically injured or when someone incurs property damage. In other words, negligence occurs when one breaches their duty to conduct themselves as a reasonably prudent person would under the circumstances, which results in damages to the injured party that were actually and proximately caused by the negligent individual’s conduct. So basically, if your texting and driving is the direct and proximate cause of an auto accident, you may be found liable in a civil suit for negligence. However, just because you were texting and driving before an accident occurred, does not automatically mean that you are liable for negligence. The statute cited above further provides that failure to comply with the statute shall not constitute negligence per se or contributory negligence per se by the individual cited for violating the statute in any action for the recovery of damages arising out of the operation, ownership, or maintenance of a vehicle. In essence, what this means is that you cannot automatically be deemed to be negligent because you violated the statute. It also means that if you are the plaintiff (complainant) in a negligence action against someone who caused an auto collision with you, you cannot be automatically deemed to be contributorily negligent which would bar your entire claim in North Carolina, because you received a citation for violating the statute. Additional proof that a driver’s texting and driving was negligent must be offered and proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Violation of the statute alone will not suffice. To learn more about contributory negligence, please read our blog titled Contributory Negligence in North Carolina.

This blog is not to be construed as legal advice. We strongly encourage you to seek the advice of a North Carolina Personal Injury Attorney if you incur injuries due to the fault of others who were texting and driving or in all other matters where you incur injuries due to the fault of others. To schedule a consultation today, contact Biazzo & Panchenko Law, PLLC.

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