You might know texting and driving is a dangerous practice, but did you know you could face legal penalties for using your phone behind the wheel in Missouri? Although Missouri’s cell phone laws aren’t as strict as some other states, there are punishments associated with texting and driving for some drivers. Even if police don’t charge you under the state’s cell phone laws, you could receive a citation for reckless driving if texting interferes with your abilities. Should you get into an accident while texting, you may face liability for the other party’s damages. Conversely, if you were injured in a car collision caused by the negligence of another driver, you could recover damages. Learn the laws in Missouri to better protect your rights as a driver and if you have any additional questions, reach out to a local Kansas City car accident attorney.
Missouri Cell Phone and Texting Laws
Revisor of Statutes in the State of Missouri, Section 304.820, bans text messaging and all other use of hand-held mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle for drivers 21 or younger, with a few exceptions. This law went into effect August 28, 2013. The law does not apply to drivers over the age of 21. “Text messaging” includes sending, reading, or writing electronic texts or emails. Drivers operating commercial motor vehicles must also abide by this law, regardless of age. As of January 2012, bus drivers may not use hand-held devices while driving. The only exceptions are as follows:
- The person is operating an authorized emergency vehicle.
- The person used a hand-held device to report illegal activity, summon emergency assistance, or prevent injury to person or property.
- The person used the device to relay information between a for-hire operator and a dispatcher (only if the device is permanently affixed to the vehicle).
The law includes texts, emails, instant messages, and accessing Internet sites “electronic messages.” “Hand-held electronic devices” include cell phones, Blackberries, palm pilots, or other devices used to communicate. The law does not apply to any devices installed as part of the motor vehicle’s original design. If the driver stops or lawfully parks the vehicle, he or she may use a cell phone for text messaging. The law also permits the use of voice-operated technology or hands-free devices. By Missouri law, making phone calls via hand-held electronic devices is still legal for all drivers.
Penalties for Texting and Driving in Missouri
If you are under 21 or a commercial driver caught texting while driving, you could face fines for breaking the law. This is a primary offense, meaning police officers do not need another reason to make a traffic stop for texting and driving. In other states, a driver must commit some other offense to receive a ticket for cell phone use behind the wheel (secondary offense laws). In Missouri, the penalties are relatively light for cell phone infractions. Offenders will have to pay a $20.50 fine if caught texting and driving. The fine remains the same for subsequent offenses.
Unfortunately, lack of cell phone law enforcement and lenient punishments means that the state’s texting and driving laws have not done much to deter distracted driving. However, the threat of legal punishment should not be the only thing deterring drivers from cell phone use behind the wheel. In an accident, the other party could hold a driving liable for damages because he/she was texting and driving. Texting while driving is a form of negligence. If a driver isn’t afraid of the $20.50 fine, the thought of causing an accident and potential injuries and deaths should keep him or her from picking up the phone.
If you were involved in a recent car accident and believe the other driver was texting at the time of the crash, seek help from a Kansas City personal injury lawyer. You may be eligible to receive compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, property damage, and more. Despite Missouri’s lax cell-phone laws, you could hold a driver responsible for your damages if the courts find him or her negligent.
Contact a Kansas City Car Accident Attorney
If you’ve been involved in an accident resulting from a distracted driver the law firm of Dickerson Oxton is here to help. Our Kansas City personal injury attorneys provide the expertise, knowledge and know how to help restore normalcy. For a free consultation call (816) 268-1960 or contact us via our online contact form.