Distracted driving has become a growing problem in recent years. It used to be that your carry-out coffee and your kids in the back seat were the only things taking your attention away the road. Nowadays, however, our phones provide the constant temptation of unlimited connectivity. Texting while driving, in particular, has led to a surge in traffic accidents—and deaths.
A few years ago, New Mexico took action to combat this dangerous trend. It passed legislation that prohibits distracted driving behavior. Commonly known as a “texting ban,” this law actually bans much more than just texting. In today’s post, we examine New Mexico’s distracted driving law in greater detail:
Distracted driving law
According to the law:
- You may not engage in any activity that involves typing on a mobile device while driving. This includes any form of texting, emailing or messaging as well as entering information into internet search fields.
- You may not read any text-based message while driving.
- You may not talk on the phone while driving—if the phone is in your hand.
It’s worth noting that the law defines “driving” to include any time during which a driver is temporarily stopped on the road. This means that if you are caught texting at a red light, you could still be subject to penalties.
Violation of any of the above rules is a penalty assessment misdemeanor. The fine for the first infraction is $25, and $50 for every subsequent infraction.
Exceptions to the rule
Certain device-related behaviors are permitted in New Mexico:
- While driving, you can hold your cell phone in your hand to contact emergency services.
- You can call or text using hands-free, voice technology. Tapping the screen to engage or disengage such technology is acceptable.
- You can operate GPS or any system connected to your vehicle while driving.
- You can read text-based messages while stopped in your vehicle—if your vehicle is pulled over to the side of the road.
Distracted driving accidents
In a car crash, well defined distracted driving laws can serve a plaintiff in demonstrating fault. If you are involved in an accident with a distracted driver who violated the above law, you have a strong case to pursue legal action—and seek compensation for your damages. Consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney is an important first step.