Hands-Free Driving Law Could Lead to Other Charges

Posted by Josh Valentine | Oct 18, 2019

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.

About the Author

Josh Valentine

You could say Josh has a God-given ability for sustaining long-term relationships. He and his wife first met in elementary school and went to Gardner Webb University (GWU) together, where they tied for number 1 in their class. Then, they both started law school on the same day of their graduation and got married during their first semester. He has also known his law partner Blake Caulder since Kindergarten. Theirs is the perfect partnership. “He’s the brake; I am the accelerator,” Josh says. Both Josh and his wife attended an innovative program at Charlotte Law School that allowed them to complete law school in two years instead of the typical three. His wife graduated and passed the North Carolina bar at age 20, becoming one of the youngest attorneys in the state. He readily admits she’s smarter than him. Of course, Josh went on to pass the North Carolina State Bar himself and later the South Carolina State Bar. While in school, he was Associate Editor of the Law Review and received accolades like Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society membership, Order of the Crown, Pro Bono Honors, CALI Awards (highest grade). In his career as a lawyer, he has been admitted to the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, is a member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys, and completed training for DWI Detection & Standardized Field Sobriety Testing. Josh has also been named to the Top 40 Under 40 for Criminal Defense by The National Trial Lawyers, the Business North Carolina 2019 Legal Elite for Criminal Defense, and the 10 Best Attorneys for Client Satisfaction by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys three years in a row (2016, 2017, and 2018). Community involvement has been important to Josh all his life. In high school, he participated in building a Holocaust museum that has become internationally regarded. He and his wife are actively engaged in animal rescue, which currently means seven cats and two kittens. He served in prison ministry and assisted with fundraiser banquets there, and he provides pro bono and reduced fee legal services to those in need. As if all of that weren’t enough, Josh also mentors high risk youth and helps with his church’s youth group. He participates in other community volunteer projects involving construction, remodeling, drywall, painting, and landscaping. He’s an active student of the Bible and has traveled to Israel, Brazil, and Europe for mission work. No one can say Josh isn’t a well-rounded individual. In his spare time, he likes to play softball, basketball, and tennis, and he can play the piano and trombone. Sometimes on weekends, believe it or not, he enjoys pouring and finishing concrete with friends who own a concrete and grading business. In his law practice, Josh has made it a point to develop positive relationships with officers, clerks, and district attorneys, which has proven invaluable in delivering positive results for his clients. It’s important to him to both listen to his clients and fight for them. Law enforcement officers have important responsibilities to keep our communities safe and uphold the law, but one of the responsibilities of attorneys is to make sure officers do their job correctly. Josh considers it his job to hold them accountable for their actions. Josh is a person of deep faith. He knows that the established order of our universe and strength of America’s Judeo-Christian influenced court system is built on God’s word. His passion to serve each client with innovation, excellence and integrity is a byproduct of his faith. When asked why he became a lawyer, Josh says, “All through my life, I have personally witnessed family members and very close friends endure divorce, child custody battles, bankruptcy, civil lawsuits, and even fraudulent criminal accusations. I both saw and experienced the stress such events can place on an individual, and I realized that everyone, at some point in their life, needs hope, comfort, and encouragement. In each one of those situations, the person who was best situated to provide that vital support was their lawyer. So that’s why I became an attorney. I understand what you are going through, and I’m here to help you. Our office is focused on meeting your needs and guiding you through what may be the most difficult time of your life.” Education: Charlotte School of Law J.D., Magna Cum Laude Class Rank – 21 of 328 Associate Editor of Charlotte School of Law Law Review Certification and Concentration in Employment Law Phi Delta Phi International Legal Honor Society Order of the Crown Pro Bono Honors CALI Awards (Highest Grade)—Lawyering Process I and Contracts I Full Scholarship Gardner-Webb University B.S. in Accounting, Summa Cum Laude Distinguished Senior Student Award – Highest GPA Alpha Sigma Lambda National Honorary Society Bar Admissions: North Carolina State Bar