A proposed bill would make it illegal to use a phone or other mobile device while driving. The Hands-Free NC Act, House Bill (HB) 144 has passed the House and now awaits approval in the senate. Using a phone while driving could lead to getting pulled over by the police. As with any traffic stop, the police may have an opportunity to look for other possible violations, including impaired driving or driving with a revoked license.
Proposed Bill Would Make It Illegal to Use a Phone While Driving
Rep. Kevin Corbin introduced HB 144 to address the problem of distracted driving in North Carolina. With bipartisan support, the bill creates a new statutory offense for “distracted driving." All drivers would be prohibited from doing any of the following with a wireless communication device:
- Holding the device in the driver's hand;
- Physically supporting the device with the driver's body;
- Watching a video or communicating by video; and
- Texting (including manually entering text, reading text, or using more than one button to start or end a call).
Drivers under the age of 18 would further be prohibited from using a wireless communication device altogether, except for following a route on a navigation system (in emergency situations or where the address was already entered before operating the vehicle).
Violation of the law would be an infraction and penalties would depend on the number of violations the driver has in a 36 month period. A driver with two or more violations in the previous 36 months would be subject to a $200 fine and two insurance points.
Under current law, drivers are only prohibited from using a mobile phone to text or email while the vehicle is in motion.
Using a Phone Leading to a Traffic Stop
The police generally need reasonable suspicion to believe you violated a law in order to make a traffic stop. This can be something minor like a broken tail light, cracked windshield, or speeding. However, once the police make a traffic stop, they may find further evidence of a suspected crime. Many driving while impaired (DWI) arrests in North Carolina begin with a stop for a minor vehicle violation. If the Hands-Free NC law goes into effect, drivers may be stopped for video chatting or typing an address into a map app.
Challenging Traffic Stops After an Arrest
Your North Carolina criminal defense attorney may be able to challenge the traffic stop if you are arrested for a DWI or other crime after getting pulled over. If the police did not have reasonable suspicion that a crime or traffic violation was taking place, then the traffic stop may have been unlawful. Talk to your criminal defense lawyer about your case and how you can fight the charges against you.
Traffic Violations and DWI Defense in North Carolina
At Caulder & Valentine Law Firm, PLLC, we have helped drivers and their families deal with criminal driving charges to stay out of jail and keep their license. Contact us today in Shelby for a consultation.