North Dakota lawmakers recently passed a bill that allows law enforcement officers to assess additional fines against drivers who are distracted and, while distracted, commit a traffic offense. The bill has been signed into law by the governor of North Dakota. Under the new law, in addition to the fine or penalty that can be assessed for the traffic offense, law enforcement officers can assess an additional $100 in fines against the driver if the driver was distracted at the time the offense occurred. In addition to texting while driving, a driver might be distracted if he or she is putting on makeup, eating, and/or reading books, newspapers, or e-mails.
Why the Need for Distracted Driving Laws
North Dakota is just one state in the country attempting to crack down on distracted driving – and for good reason. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- Every day in the United States over 8 people are killed and over 1,100 people are injured in distracted driving crashes;
- In 2013, about one of every five crashes in the United States involved a distracted driver;
- In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in distracted driving crashes and another 424,000 were injured.
What is more alarming is that despite public awareness campaigns and the publication of statistics such as those from the CDC, there does not appear to be a marked reduction in the incidence rate of distracted driving. This suggests that even though individuals may be aware of the dangers of distracted driving, they do not feel any sense of urgency to modify their behaviors and stop driving while distracted.
Legal Consequences of Distracted Driving
In addition to the $100 fine that can be assessed, distracted drivers may face other legal consequences, as well. If a distracted driver causes a crash that injures another motorist, pedestrian, motorcyclist, or other person, the distracted driver can be sued and (if the lawsuit is successful) be ordered to pay monetary damages and compensation to the injured person. This is because distracted driving is considered to be negligent or careless behavior that is not justifiable in all but a few rare cases.
Holding Distracted Drivers Accountable
The first step to take if you or a loved one has been injured by a distracted driver is to contact Tim O’Keeffe, Tatum O’Brien or Sarah Monson with the North Dakota and Minnesota car crash recovery law firm of O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss. Evidence that the at-fault driver was assessed the $100 fine by a law enforcement officer for distracted driving at the time of your crash can be powerfully persuasive evidence that the driver should also be responsible for your injuries, losses, and expenses. Our team has other resources, too, that can help show the at-fault driver in your crash was not fulfilling his or her obligation to drive in a reasonable and careful manner. Contact O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss today online to discuss your distracted driving accident, or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002 for help with your case.