Is Texting and Driving Illegal in North Carolina?


UPDATED: November 31 2021

In 2018, 123 people died in North Carolina because of distracted driving, and fatalities involving texting and driving account for 9 percent of all fatal auto accidents nationwide from 2012 to 2018. Distracted driving is a life and death issue across the United States and North Carolina is proposing a further resolution to the problem with HB144, also known as The Hands-Free North Carolina Act. Sixteen states now have hands-free laws. Last year, Georgia became the latest state to adopt hands-free legislation. Since the law took effect on July 1, 2018, there has been a 15 percent reduction in commercial motor vehicle fatalities, according to the American Property Casualty Insurance Association. The bill, if approved, prohibits the hand-held use of a cellphone or other wireless communication devices but allows the driver to make hands-free calls. Drivers who are at least 18 years old would be able to use their cellphones if the phone is mounted in the vehicle and the call can be initiated or terminated by touching a single button, such as speed dialing. Provisions are made for drivers who need to make emergency calls or for emergency officers and first responders. North Carolina drivers could be assessed a $100 fine if they're convicted of talking on the phone while driving. Also in the bill, drivers could face a $150 fine and could be assessed one insurance point by the state's Rate Bureau if they're caught and convicted a second time within 36 months. If passed, the bill would go into effect in 2020. It still needs approval from the House, Senate, and governor to become law.

As of 2021, The North Carolina Hands-Free Act makes it illegal to use a mobile phone only if it results in careless or reckless driving. Essentially, drivers will only receive a traffic ticket for using a cellphone if the behavior results in an accident, running a stop sign, or other reckless consequences. The proposed 2021 Hands-Free Act would make it illegal to hold a phone and use it while driving, including having your phone cradled on your shoulder or otherwise supported by your body. 


Teens Could Be Most at Risk with Distracted Driving

Texting and talking while driving statistics show that multitasking behind the wheel is becoming a life-threatening norm. Talking or texting while driving and using social media takes eyes off the road and brains off the task of driving. Coupled with inexperience and limited driving skills, distracted driving because of smartphones can be especially deadly for teen drivers, especially if they are speeding or drinking alcohol. Because technology continues to change and new distractions inevitably arise, parents need to make sure teens understand the value of driving with attention and focus. According to research conducted at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), teens who don't use digital devices while driving believe the benefits outweigh any drawbacks. For these teens, the benefits associated with not using a cell phone while driving include being able to pay more attention to the surrounding area and other vehicles, avoiding accidents, and following laws that are meant to protect them. Parents can provide teens with safe alternatives to texting and other smartphone uses while driving with some basic rules: • Complete any call or text before starting the car • Get directions and try to visualize the destination before turning the key • Check in with friends or parents only after arrival • Parents should avoid calling or texting their teen when he or she is driving • Set the default "do not disturb" setting on a teen's phone Distracted driving can be deadly. As a parent, talk to your teens about the dangers of using their smartphones while driving. As a driver, get in the habit of not using any electronic devices while driving and practice focusing your attention on the road. If you or your teen is pulled over for texting and driving or any other offense, an experienced defense attorney can help you minimize the impact of a conviction with a reduction to charges or even dismissal of the case. Call The Law Offices of Jason H. Reece in Charlotte at 704-714-8888 or fill out this contact form for a free consultation.