It used to be that driving while distracted by your phone, whether it be checking on your messages or texting, could result in a ticket. Yet it would only cost you $50 and a point on your license. The new law ups that penalty significantly. SB 27 would increase the number of points up to four points per ticket as well as $300 in fines. It received bipartisan support in spite of some Republican concerns as well.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, who lawmakers say is likely to sign the bill into law, has been very outspoken in his statements about the risks of distracted driving. One Colorado State Patrol trooper told a Denver news outlet that his fellow officers write tickets for texting while driving on a daily basis.
Effects on Distracted Driving Choices
When getting caught for texting while driving in Colorado only cost a driver a single point on his or her license, the effects on distracted driving might be limited. There's little risk of losing one's license privileges when you can earn 12 in a year or 18 over two years before a suspension. For 18 to 21-year-olds
However, that changes with the new penalties. Just three tickets would keep a young Coloradan from driving for a full year. Four would have the same impact for older drivers. That makes a much greater impact and may serve as a deterrent.
As Distracted Driving Awareness Month winds down, it's important to remember that Colorado ranks top ten in the country for the number of citations its motorists receive for distracted driving. An anonymous survey conducted by the state Department of Transportation noted that up to one-third of Coloradans still pick up their phone.
So the law, combined with efforts like CDOT's Drop the Distraction Campaign and increased enforcement efforts by the CSP and local law enforcement, could finally push down the number of drivers who could cause distracted driving accidents.
Caveats Could Limit Some Impacts
Republicans were concerned about SB 27 because of the significant uptick in consequences for Colorado drivers. There were two factors that helped to reduce some of the opposition:
1) It remains legal to use one's smartphone device while stopped at a red light or stopped in traffic because the vehicle isn't in motion.
2) Since the bill is designed to crack down on poor driving habits, the $300 fine and four points only come if a law enforcement officer decides that the motorist is acting "in a careless and imprudent manner".
What to Do After a Distracted Driving Accident
If you've been in an accident with a distracted driver, your injuries could be significant. Medical bills might pile up and lost income could make bills tough to pay. Learn more about your legal rights: Get a free consultation with an Anderson Hemmat & McQuinn accident attorney today.
Call 303-782-9999 or use the easy case evaluation form to your right for a confidential review of the facts of your potential case. We look forward to helping you get the best possible outcome.