Prosecutors, plaintiffs may face challenges pursuing distracted drivers
Distracted driving is an important safety problem states have been attempting to deal with more and more in recent years. By definition, distracted driving includes a variety of unsafe behaviors, but it often refers directly to the use of cell phones, particularly for texting.
Most states have passed laws regulating the use of cell phones while driving. In Florida, the current rule is that all drivers are banned from texting while driving, and that’s it. This law is classified as secondary, which means that police officers are unable to enforce the law unless they also have probable cause for another offense. This limits enforcement efforts, but is a start.
Still, part of the problem with distracted driving laws is that even when officers catch a motorist violating the law, they may not be able to provide sufficient evidence to successfully see a case through a trial. This can further limit enforcement efforts.
When it comes to civil cases, distracted driving accident victims do not have to necessarily prove distracted driving itself, but only negligence. There are various ways to prove negligence. If a driver runs through a stop sign or a red light and crashes into an oncoming motorist, it mostly doesn’t matter why they did so. The presumption is that they failed to follow the traffic signal, and so violated a basic traffic law. Some circumstances may present mitigating circumstances, but short of that, negligence can be short without having to prove distraction. In some cases it may be possible to present evidence of distraction by cell phone use, but that doesn’t always work.
In any case, it is important for distracted driving victims to work with an experienced attorney in building a strong case. Doing so will ensure the best possible result in the case.
Source: USA Today, “Distracted driving cases tough to build,” Carly Q. Romalino, July 21, 2014.Florida Department of Transportation, Distracted Driving,” Accessed July 24, 2014.
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