Legal Implications of Texting and Driving in Missouri

Texting while driving is considered a significant hazard on the roads of Missouri, posing a threat not only to the driver engaged in the activity but also to other road users and pedestrians. The act of using a mobile device to read, type, or send a text message diverts attention from the task of driving, with potentially catastrophic consequences. In response to this safety concern, Missouri law has stipulated specific regulations aimed at curbing the practice and enhancing road safety.

The legal implications of texting and driving in Missouri are contingent upon the age of the driver and whether the driver is operating a commercial vehicle. For drivers under the age of 21, it is illegal to text and drive, reflecting a zero-tolerance approach towards this risky behavior within this demographic. Commercial drivers are also subject to stringent federal and state regulations that prohibit texting while operating commercial vehicles.

Ensuring compliance with these laws is critical, as infractions can result in fines, points added to the driver’s license, and increased insurance premiums. More severe incidents that result in accidents can lead to much harsher penalties, including criminal charges if the behavior led to injury or death. It is clear that the state of Missouri recognizes the importance of mitigating the dangers of texting and driving through legislation and enforcement, reflecting a commitment to public safety on the roads. Reach out to our law firm for a complimentary case review if you’ve been in a recent car accident where one of the drivers was texting. Contact an attorney focusing on accidents involving texting for assistance.

Photo of Distracted Driver

Understanding Missouri’s Texting and Driving Laws

In Missouri, the texting and driving laws are specifically designed to minimize distractions and enhance road safety. These regulations are particularly stringent for young drivers and apply differently to commercial vehicle operators.

Legal Provisions and Restrictions

Missouri law stipulates that drivers 21 years of age and younger are strictly prohibited from sending, reading, or writing a text message while driving. This is a primary law, meaning an officer can pull over and cite a young driver solely for texting while driving, without any other traffic offense taking place.

For drivers older than 21, the law does not currently ban texting for non-commercial drivers. However, all commercial drivers are prohibited from texting while operating a commercial vehicle, as per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations, which Missouri adheres to.

Age GroupTexting While Driving
21 years and underProhibited
Over 21 (Non-commercial drivers)Not explicitly prohibited
Commercial DriversProhibited

Comparative Negligence in Traffic Violations

In Missouri, the principle of comparative negligence may come into play for traffic violations involving accidents. If a driver is found to be texting while driving and is involved in a crash, they can be held partially or fully responsible for the incident. This proportion of fault can affect the recovery of damages in any subsequent legal case. The use of a mobile device at the time of an accident is considered evidence of negligence, which can significantly impact the outcome of civil litigation.

Consequences of Texting and Driving

Texting and driving in Missouri can lead to significant legal repercussions, including financial penalties and lasting effects on driving records and insurance rates.

Penalties and Fines

In Missouri, individuals caught texting while driving may face fines and penalties. The law is particularly stringent for drivers under the age of 21, who are banned from texting and driving altogether.

  • First Offense: For drivers over the age of 21, being caught texting and driving for the first time can result in a fine. However, Missouri law does not specify a set fine amount for this violation.
  • Recurring Offenses: Additional offenses can lead to increased fines and the possibility of having points assessed against the driver’s license.

Impact on Driving Records and Insurance

Texting while driving can have more than just immediate financial consequences; it can also affect long-term driving records and insurance premiums.

  • Driving Record: If caught texting and driving, points may be added to an individual’s driving record. Accumulating points can lead to a suspension or revocation of driving privileges.
  • Insurance Rates: Insurance companies often view texting while driving as risky behavior. If a policyholder is cited for texting while driving, their insurance provider may increase their premiums to account for the perceived increase in risk.
Photo of a Woman Using Mobile

After a Texting and Driving Accident

Following an accident caused by texting and driving, it is crucial for individuals to understand the immediate actions to take, how to navigate insurance claims, and the significance of seeking legal counsel. These steps are essential to ensure legality and proper handling of the aftermath.

Immediate Steps to Take

  • Check for Injuries: The safety of all parties involved is paramount. If there are any injuries, call 911 immediately to receive medical assistance.
  • Report the Accident: Contact local law enforcement to file a police report. It’s essential for legal documentation, especially if the accident was caused by texting and driving.
  • Exchange Information: Collect the names, contact information, insurance details, and vehicle information from all parties involved.
  • Document the Scene: Take photographs of the accident site, including vehicle positions, traffic signs, and any relevant road conditions.
  • Witness Statements: If there are witnesses, obtain their contact details and ask for a brief account of what they saw.

Navigating Insurance Claims

  • Notify Your Insurer: Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to report the accident. Adhere to their procedure for filing a claim.
  • Gather Documentation: Prepare all accident-related documentation, including the police report, photos, and witness statements to support your claim.
  • Avoid Immediate Settlements: Consult with a lawyer before accepting any settlements, to ensure that you receive fair compensation.

Seeking Legal Counsel

  • Consult an Attorney: Even if the legal implications seem clear, consulting with an attorney who specializes in traffic accidents can provide guidance on your rights and the next steps.
  • Understand Legal Consequences: An attorney can elaborate on the legal consequences of texting while driving in Missouri, such as fines or license suspension.
  • Representation: Your attorney will represent you in all matters relating to the accident, including negotiations with insurance companies and if necessary, legal proceedings.

Each of these subsections provides vital information to individuals involved in a texting and driving accident in Missouri, highlighting the importance of quick and appropriate action, understanding the insurance landscape, and the role of legal counsel in navigating the complexities of such incidents.