Still No Anti-Texting Legislation in West Virginia
Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Mar 04, 2015 in Car Accidents
As another legislative session comes to an end, West Virginia still has not made texting behind the wheel illegal. While there is a general distracted driving law that encompasses all behaviors behind the wheel that pull the drivers attention away from the road, some lawmakers and safety advocates say that it is not enough. The state does ban novice drivers - those with a learners permit or intermediate license - from using cell phones and/or texting while operating a vehicle.
Several other states have at least made texting a secondary offense, meaning that law enforcement could issue a citation for sending or reading texts behind the wheel, but the West Virginia legislature has yet to reach a consensus on a statute.
Why Wont the Law Pass?
Its not as if a texting ban is unheard of among West Virginias lawmakers. There have been several different proposals, dating back to 2008, that have failed for one reason or another. Unfortunately, though, by not making texting illegal, the legal loophole allowing it remains open. Texting behind the wheel would have to rise to the level of technical "distraction" to be punishable, meaning that it is a subjective call on the part of the officer as to whether or not the law is being violated. This added level of deliberation means that the safety of state roadways can be compromised.
The state of West Virginia obviously understands the dangers inherent in using mobile electronic devices while driving, and now prohibits all state employees from using anything but a hands-free communication device. Unfortunately, the acknowledgement of potential hazards has not trickled down to all residents of the state.
Until such a time that sending or checking text messages behind the wheel becomes illegal, it will continue to happen on West Virginia roads. While the states lawmakers bide their time, you or a loved one could be injured in a distracted driving-related accident. If so, you should seek medical attention immediately, and as soon as possible consult an experienced personal injury attorney in your area.