December 13, 2017

Legislation to Crack Down on Distracted Driving Took a Small Step Forward

Over the last three years, the number of car accidents in Wisconsin has been on the rise. There were almost 130,000 crashes in the state last year, resulting in the deaths of over 500 people. Distracted drivers are a significant cause of these casualties. In an attempt to make the roads safer, the Wisconsin state legislature is considering a law that would stiffen the penalties for distracted driving.

If you or a loved one were hurt in a car accident, call the Wisconsin car accident lawyers of Studinski Law, LLC at (715) 343-2850 for a free consultation regarding your case.

What Are the Current Penalties for Distracted Driving in Wisconsin?

Current Wisconsin distracted driving laws enable police to fine you anywhere from $20 to $400 for doing any of the following:

  • An activity that interferes with your ability to drive your vehicle safely
  • Composing or sending a text or email
  • Using a wireless telephone (for probationary license or instructional permit holders)
  • Using a wireless telephone in a construction zone
  • Operating or being positioned to directly view an electronic device that provides visual entertainment

What Will the New Distracted Driving Penalties Be?

The new law, known as Assembly Bill 463, is still in committee. The bill extends the prohibition of sending texts or emails while driving to any use of an electronic device to enter, transmit, or access data. You will still be allowed to use your phone for the purposes of verbal communication or for reporting an emergency. The bill would raise the minimum penalty to $100 for a violation. Causing the death of a another person because of your distracted driving becomes a class G felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison, and/or fines reaching $25,000.

How Effective Will the New Law Be in Reducing Distracted Driving?

The effectiveness of Assembly Bill 463 will depend on whether the new penalties are harsh enough to get people to put their phones down while driving. The prospect of a $100 fine might not be high enough for most people to change their behavior.

Furthermore, the penalty for killing someone because of distracted driving remains the same. It’s already a class G felony if you kill someone because of negligent driving. The difference is that a prosecutor would only need to prove that you were using your phone while driving, as opposed to proving that you were negligently operating your vehicle.

What’s more promising for road safety than slightly increased distracted driving penalties are new cell phone features that encourage drivers to focus on the road. For example, Apple’s iOS 11 has a Do Not Disturb While Driving mode that blocks notifications and calls while you’re connected to your car via Bluetooth, or when the phone senses you might be in a vehicle. Samsung includes a similar feature on its phones. Mobile carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint also offer driving mode applications and devices that limit incoming calls and notifications.

Studinski Law, LLC Can Help

Too many people have to face the consequences of distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, distracted driving caused the loss of 3,477 lives and around half a million injuries in 2015. If you or a loved one are among these victims, Studinski Law, LLC can help you and your family get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at (715) 343-2850 for your free consultation.

Jason Studinski Injury Attorney
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