PA Texting Law

texting drivingPennsylvania's new law prohibiting text-based communication while driving took effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 8, making texting while driving a primary offense carrying a $50 fine.

"Your most important job when behind the wheel is to focus only on driving. Most people would never close their eyes for five seconds while driving, but that's how long you take your eyes of the road, or even longer, every time you send or read a text message," PennDOT Secretary Barry J. Schoch said. "It's not just your own life you're risking; it's the lives and safety of every motorist around you."

 

"This is a serious problem and we are hoping that we can educate citizens on the dangers of texting while driving and prevent future accidents," said State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan. "Our troopers will attempt to use observations of the driver while the vehicle is in motion to determine if traffic stops are warranted. An example might be the motorist continues to manipulate the device over an extended distance with no apparent voice communication.

"Ultimately, we hope that our enforcement efforts will create voluntary compliance by the majority of motorists," Noonan said.

In 2010, there were nearly 14,000 crashes in Pennsylvania where distracted driving played a role, with 68 people dying in those crashes.

Title 75 Section 3316: Prohibiting Text Based Communications

Section 3316 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code (75 Pa.C.S.A. 3316)

What the law does
  • The law prohibits as a primary offense any driver from using an Interactive Wireless Communication Device (IWCD) to send, read or write a text-based communication while his or her vehicle is in motion.
  • Defines an IWCD as a wireless phone, personal digital assistant, smart phone, portable or mobile computer or similar devices that can be used for texting, instant messaging, emailing or browsing the Internet.
  • Defines a text-based communication as a text message, instant message, email or other written communication composed or received on an IWCD.
  • Institutes a $50 fine for convictions under this section.
  • Makes clear that this law supersedes and preempts any local ordinances restricting the use of interactive wireless devices by drivers.
The penalty is a summary offense. The law does not authorize the seizure of an IWCD.
The law goes into effect March 8, 2012, 120 calendar days from Nov. 9, 2011.
The violation carries no points as a penalty and will not be recorded on the driver record for non-commercial drivers. It will be recorded on commercial drivers’ records as a non-sanction violation.
The texting ban does NOT include the use of a GPS device, a system or device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicle, or a communications device that is affixed to a mass transit vehicle, bus or school bus.

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