West Virginia recently struggled with whether it should make its first-time ban on handheld cell phones while driving a primary offense or secondary offense. The compromise was to set up the restriction as a secondary offense for one year in 2012, and then clamp down on drivers beginning in 2013. Regardless of the degree of the offense, if you have been injured by a distracted driver talking on a cell phone, an auto accident attorney Preston County can help.
Primary Offense v. Secondary Offense: What’s the Difference?
When a violation of a traffic law becomes a primary offense, it means that a law enforcement officer who observes you committing the traffic violation (such as speeding) can pull you over to ticket you. If the traffic violation constitutes a secondary offense (such as using a handheld cell phone), then the police officer can only ticket you for using a cell phone if he or she has already pulled you over for another offense.
Some traffic violations have been made secondary offenses primarily because the violation is difficult to enforce and does not increase the “risk on the road.” The most famous example of a secondary offence is a state’s seat belt law that requires motorists to wear a seat belt while operating their vehicle on the highway. Your failure to wear a seat belt does not increase the risk on the road. In other words, your decision not to wear a seat belt does not make you an unsafe driver—it only raises the risk of harm to yourself. Moreover, it is difficult for a police officer to tell if a driver is wearing a seat belt from his or her patrol car
In contrast, using a handheld device while driving raises the risk to other drivers on the road; it is also more visible to an officer from his or her patrol car. Therefore, many states are beefing up the enforcement piece of their distracted driving laws by making violations primary offenses. Learning more about West Virginia’s new distracted driving law, including other enforcement provisions, is worthwhile.
Contact an Auto Accident Injury Lawyer if You’re Suffering
It doesn’t matter if the violation is a primary or secondary offense when a distracted driver’s negligence is the primary cause of your accident. An auto accident attorney in Preston County with the Miley Legal Group is prepared to give your case the close attention that it deserves. If you would like to learn more about auto accident claims, request our free guide: “The 7 Biggest Mistakes that Can Wreck Your West Virginia Car Accident Claim.” When the time is right, call us at 304-326-1800 or 888-436-0859 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.