The Stoughton Journal is reporting that the state’s new text messaging ban could be tough to enforce.
The new law went into effect at the first of the month as the state joins 29 others that have banned text messaging by drivers in an effort to reduce the number of serious and fatal Massachusetts car accidents caused by distracted driving. As we reported on our Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, first-time offenders face a fine of up to $135.
Those under the age of 18 are prohibited from using all hand-held devices for any reason; a first-offense will result in a 60-day driver’s license suspension, a $100 fine and participation in a mandatory driver’s education course.
Law enforcement contend the law will be difficult to enforce but voluntary compliance could reduce the risk of accidents caused by distracted drivers.
Nationwide, distracted driving is blamed for nearly 5,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year and is the leading cause of serious and fatal accidents after speeding and drunk driving, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
But Wayne Sampson, the executive director of the Massachusetts Chief’s of Police Association, foresees problems with enforcement of the law. For starters, Sampson said the state has issued no guidelines for enforcement, leaving each department to create its own.
And that is not the biggest issue: The challenge of telling the difference between someone who is text messaging and someone who is dialing a phone will be the biggest challenge officers face in enforcing the new law. “There is no way that an officer going down the street is going to be able to tell what somebody is doing when they are looking down in their lap,” he said. “We are going to have a problem in any of the actual prosecutions of these offenses.”
While telephone records will be summoned from phone companies in the event of a serious accident, routine cases will be much more difficult to prove.
Fines for adults caught repeatedly violating the new law will increase to $250 for a second offense and $500 for subsequent offenses. The violation will not count as a moving violation and so should not lead to an increase in insurance premiums.
If you have been injured in a car accident in Massachusetts, contact Boston Injury Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.